College Boulevard to see improvements ahead of giant project

06/25/2013 9:55 AM

06/25/2013 9:55 AM

Those who live or work in the area around Interstate 35, Interstate 435 and Kansas 10 can add a part of College Boulevard to the long list of roads that will be torn up as the Kansas Department of Transportation begins a massive construction project next year.

The stretch of College between Ridgeview Road and Renner Boulevard will be widened from its current two lanes to four to accommodate traffic on what is bound to be a detour during construction of the Johnson County Gateway project, said Burt Morey, project manager.

The newest piece will add about $9 million to the project, he said. Parts of College Boulevard are already four lanes, but the stretch in question is only two and has narrow shoulders.

There is no timetable yet as to when the College Boulevard portion will begin, but it will have to happen before K-10 and Ridgeview interchange is begun, Morey said. Work at that intersection is likely to push drivers toward College, whether it becomes an official detour or not, he said. The K-10 and Ridgeview interchange is supposed to be done by July 1, 2015.

Travelers on I-435 have become used to construction at intersections to the east for the past three years, as the highway department redid connections at U.S. 69. But that project is small in comparison with the giant undertaking that will begin in 2014.

In fact, the Gateway project is twice the size of the recent U.S. 69 project, and it is expected to be done in the same amount of time. The state has budgeted $250 million for the next leg of the construction, which will likely begin next March.

The main part of the project is a redesign of what is expected to become an increasingly busy intersection at I-35 and I-435, given the industrial growth associated with a large new freight facility near Gardner.

Along the way, the cities of Olathe and Lenexa asked that the Renner and Ridgeview intersections along K-10 receive improvements. Lenexa also won approval for a complete redo of its intersection at I-35 and 95th Street, the closest place for shoppers to get off at Oak Park Mall. Both those cities agreed to share in the cost of those construction projects.

The effects of the construction will ripple out to other nearby streets as well. Underpasses where Pflumm Road, Lackman Road and Santa Fe Trail Drive cross the interstate will also be affected when construction is taking place above.

Morey said care will be taken not to work on consecutive intersections at the same time. And the overpass near Oak Park Mall will remain open over the holiday season, he said.

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