Kansas Turnpike to widen I-70

| 1/3/2003

The Kansas Turnpike Authority recently authorized a project to widen I-70 between its East Topeka and Lecompton toll plazas, according to public relations director Lisa Callahan.

This project, 12.69 miles in length, will add an additional driving lane in each direction. The cost of the project, which includes drainage changes and a new 51-inch median barrier, is estimated to cost $108.6 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2005 or 2006.

Additionally, the turnpike authority's engineering consultant, HNTB Corp., recently said the Kansas River Bridge at Lawrence would reach the end of its useful life in 2012. As a result, the turnpike authority approved the preliminary steps necessary to have a replacement bridge in place by that time. The replacement of what is known as the J.L. Fisher Bridge, together with interchange improvements at plazas 202 and 204 in Lawrence, is estimated to cost $131.9 million and would be completed sometime between 2009 and 2012.

These two projects were identified in a long-term needs study conducted by HNTB Corp. and presented to the Kansas Turnpike Authority in the spring of 2001. Other projects identified in the report include replacement and relocation of the Topeka service area, replacement of the aging service area facilities in Matfield Green and at milepost 65 in Towanda, and the relocation of the southern terminal.

The replacement and relocation of the Topeka service area and the replacement of the Towanda service area facilities are now complete. The relocation and reconstruction of the southern terminal interchange and the replacement of the Matfield Green service area facilities are both under construction and should be complete in mid-2003.

-By Rene Tankersley, feature editor