Kansas Turnpike Authority to increase tolls, addresses truck parking

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Friday, January 22, 2016

Truckers driving through Kansas can expect to pay more for toll fees starting May 1, according to the Kansas Turnpike Authority. KTA has also released a long-term needs study that reveals $1.2 billion is needed for projects in order to preserve, maintain and enhance the turnpike for the next 10 years, including truck parking.

Effective May 1, KTA will have one base toll rate that will discount electronic customers. Currently, KTA offers two toll rates: a cash rate and an electronic rate. The new cash rate will increase by approximately 10 percent from the current rate, establishing the base toll rate. Truckers who are electronic customers will receive a 10 percent discount on their monthly statement, and electronic customers with class 2-4 vehicles will receive a 20 percent discount.

To make tolling quicker for truckers, KTA will also be accepting Bestpass, a company providing nationwide streamlined toll management services to commercial motor carriers. Truckers can now use the Bestpass Horizon electronic device in lieu of a K-Tag.

KTA is seeking more than $1 billion to fund varying projects for the turnpike. Projects within the long-term needs study include:

  • Truck parking improvements
  • Open-road tolling at three terminals
  • Pavement preservation and maintenance
  • Bridge height raisings
  • Bridge condition improvements

Parking for trucks is an issue being addressed by KTA. The long-term needs study mentions a truck parking expansion at the Topeka and Towanda service areas. KTA also plans to launch a truck parking information system using dynamic message signs, as well as KTA’s website and other traveler information methods to alert truckers about the availability of parking spaces on I-70 between Kansas City and Topeka, and on I-35 near Emporia.

Plans for open-road tolling are highlighted in a KTA video explaining the study. This past October, Land Line reported that Rep. J.R. Claeys, R-Salina, was leading efforts to ease congestion at three toll plazas by using open-road tolling.

Some tollbooths will move to a tag system already being used in Oklahoma and Illinois. Motorists with a K-Tag will drive through the highway without stopping. Drivers without a K-Tag will pull off to the side of the interstate where more traditional tollbooths will be available.

“When NASCAR is letting out 100,000-plus people onto the interstate, and Royals and Chiefs games with people returning to Kansas from the Missouri side, we have a tremendous amount of traffic and pressure on those toll gates. What’s happening now is you’re getting a mile, two miles, three miles of backup traffic into the moving lanes of I-70,” Claeys told Land Line.

According to the KTA study, open-road tolling will be implemented at the mainline plazas at the Eastern Terminal (mile marker 217), Southern Terminal (mile marker 17) and East Topeka I-70 (mile marker 183).

For more information, visit KSTurnpike.com.

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