WICHITA - Today Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kansas) announced a significant grant award for the City of Wichita and the surrounding area that will improve traffic in a much-needed area of the metro. The Department of Transportation has awarded a BUILD Grant of $21 million to replace outdated single-lane system ramps with new two-lane system ramps as well as a new flyover ramp at the North Junction, where I-235, I-135, K-96 and K-254 connect.
"Today's award is a great benefit to Kansans, as the North Junction serves as a major crossroads in our state," said Rep. Estes. "Transforming this area has been a top priority for the State of Kansas. This project will have a travel-time savings of $127 million and a safety savings of $4.6 million resulting from reduced crashes. The interchange connects rural and urban parts of our state, but years of vehicle traffic, congestion and crashes have diminished the efficiency of the current interchange and threatens the long-term prosperity of the region. Correcting this decades-old design is great news for south central Kansas."
The BUILD Grant will assist in completing the North Junction's Gold Project. The partnership of the Kansas Department of Transportation, the City of Wichita, and Sedgwick County doubled the amount of non-federal local funding from 26% in the 2019 INFRA application to 52% in their recent 2020 BUILD application, and they have an additional $5 million in local funds to complete the Gold Project. Completing the North Junction project will provide travel time savings of $127 million, safety savings of $4.6 million resulting from reduced crashes, and the creation of 1,220 jobs.
The Gold Project will improve safety and reduce congestion. The morning peak hour bottleneck causes major delays and operational failures on northbound I-235 from west of Broadway to southbound I-135 at K-96. This morning bottleneck will be alleviated by providing a two-lane direct connection from northbound I-235 to eastbound K-96 and an extended auxiliary lane along eastbound K-96 to the exit at Hillside. The evening peak hour bottleneck causes major delays and operational failures on northbound I-135 from K-96 through the loop ramp and west of I-135 on southbound I-235. This evening bottleneck will be alleviated by replacing the existing loop ramp with a two-lane flyover direct connection. The Gold Project will also provide connections from northbound I-135 to eastbound K-254 and southbound I-135 to southbound I-235. The Gold Project will replace the existing one-lane loop ramp from westbound K-96 to southbound I-135 with an improved two-lane loop ramp for handling projected traffic far into the future. It will add a continuous auxiliary lane on southbound I-135 from the loop ramp to 21st Street North. The construction estimate is $80 Million in 2018 dollars. This project is under preliminary design.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.