Gov. Laura Kelly’s new $750 million highway improvement plan calls for $166 million in upgrades to Kellogg freeway in east Wichita.
Kelly announced the highway modernization and expansion Wednesday, less than a month after Kellogg construction ceased for the first time in 30 years.
The next phase of Kellogg construction will address a bottleneck from the K-96 interchange to 159th Street east. At a press conference in Topeka, Kelly singled out the Kellogg improvements in her comments.
“This is a pressing issue because by addressing the congestion at the north junction interchange, a significant bottleneck has been shifted to the new area,” she said.
Mayor Brandon Whipple said he’s heard from the Kansas Department of Transportation that Kellogg construction likely won’t resume until 2023.
Earlier this month, Whipple said celebrating the completion of Kellogg construction “brings people of different perspectives together” more than almost any other issue in Wichita.
On Wednesday, he said the east-side construction shouldn’t cause as much hassle as motorists are used to on Kellogg since it’s on the outer edge of town.
“A lot of the stretch of Kellogg that is the most active isn’t going that far out,” Whipple said. “So, hopefully we’ll have a little less disturbance, I think, as they start ramping up on the construction further east than we have over the last three decades.”
The state’s 25 additional highway projects are part of the Democratic administration’s 10-year Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE), which Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz said will likely be funded through a combination of state and federal dollars, including $2.6 billion from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill.
“Previously, we wouldn’t be able to address this [Kellogg bottleneck] for another decade,” Kelly said. “Now, thanks to IKE’s timeline, we are able to begin work on a new project immediately.”
The 25 projects were identified through KDOT’s public engagement efforts, which reached 2,500 Kansans. The department said an unspecified number of Wichita-area residents selected Kellogg upgrades as the highest-priority project for the area.
In a news release, Kelly said the highway projects will “improve safety, expand economic development opportunities, and strengthen our communities.”
“My administration is committed to making short- and long-term infrastructure improvements to benefit future generations of Kansans — just as we rely on investments made by previous generations of Kansans,” she said.
Four new projects in the Kansas City metro will receive $361 million in funding, nearly half of the statewide highway plan. Kellogg is the only Sedgwick County project included in the IKE additions.
Lorenz said the trillion-dollar federal infrastructure bill will provide Kansas roughly $145 million a year for the next five years to be used on highways and bridges.
Representatives for the statewide and local KDOT offices did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Article by Mathew Kelly from The Wichita Eagle.