Access to Interstate 35 in Olathe will be limited within the next year, because of a $15.7 million reconstruction project by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The interstate will be completely repaved from 151st Street to Santa Fe Street, starting in March and ending in December.
The first phase of the project, from March until July, will close the on-ramp from Santa Fe going southbound onto I-35 and the off-ramp from Old 56 Highway onto I-35.
The second phase, from August until December, will again close the on-ramp from Santa Fe going southbound onto I-35, the on-ramp for Old 56 Highway onto I-35 and the off-ramp for Santa Fe going northbound onto I-35.
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When the department made the announcement at the Olathe City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, council members were not pleased.
“This is not a good solution for us,” Councilman John Bacon told the department’s representatives. “I think it’s the worst possible way to do the project.”
Councilman Wes McCoy agreed. He said he worried the lengthy ramp closings will negatively affect retailers on Santa Fe.
Howard Lubliner, an engineer for the department, pointed out that a lot of time was spent analyzing the best way to lay out the project.
“It will make traffic more efficient and safe to not have cars coming off every ramp during construction,” he told the council.
Councilmembers also expressed concern about the heavy increase in traffic the project will put on 119th Street and 151st Street, as well as the many smaller streets within the city.
“We’re going to need a lot of communication with residents so they know what will be closed when,” Councilman Jim Randall told city staff. “This is going to be a mess.”
Celia Duran, a city engineer for Olathe, responded that the city is going to work closely with KDOT to get the word out on social media.
Lubliner said that the ramp closings for the first phase of the project will begin the first week of April. Orange barrels should start popping up around the area in mid-March.