Though the northeast K-96 bypass isn’t a toll road, Wichita commuters owe a debt of gratitude daily to the decision of Wichitans Charles Koch and George Ablah to donate the 10 miles of right of way, about $4.5 million worth of land, that made it possible. That move nearly 30 years ago helped facilitate east Wichita’s commercial and residential growth. “All of a sudden, it became a reality to go east because you can get downtown in eight minutes and west in 11 minutes without a stop sign,” Ablah told The Eagle in 2007. The prominent real estate developer, who died Monday at age 85, has left countless other marks on the community he loved and championed. “The more I see of all the other cities, the more I respect Wichita.... It’s very real,” he said in 1987. – Rhonda Holman
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