Gate slams shut on plan to privatize Kansas Turnpike

| 6/25/2003

Truckers headed through Kansas won’t be driving on private roads any time soon.

A plan to sell the Kansas Turnpike, a 236-mile toll road, is dead on arrival, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius told The Kansas City Star.

Some in the state had bandied about the idea of selling the road as a way to bring money into the budget-battered state government. And, The Star said, a conservative think tank had valued the road at $900 million.

However, the head of the turnpike authority warned that any attempt to sell the road would be "vulnerable to attack."

The Kansas Turnpike was first opened in 1956. It runs along Interstate 70 from Kansas City, on the state’s eastern border, to the state capital of Topeka, where it becomes I-335 and I-35 and turns south toward Wichita. It continues all the way to the Oklahoma border.

The highway has a reputation as one of the best-maintained roads in the region. The tolls completely fund its operation, according to the Turnpike Web site, and the road uses no tax money.