Sick of slowing for the toll lane on Kansas Turnpike? Cruise on by near Bonner Springs

If you’re traveling through the Kansas Turnpike’s toll plaza near Bonner Springs, you no longer need to slow down — that is if you have a K-Tag or other compatible pass.

A new style of tolling called “open road tolling” became fully operational at the Kansas Turnpike toll plaza on Interstate 70 near Bonner Springs Tuesday afternoon.

This means that eastbound I-70 drivers passing through the toll area can remain at highway speeds if they are paying electronically. The eastern terminal is the first to be converted. The Kansas Turnpike’s east Topeka and southern terminals also will be converted the next two years.

“The big thing for those (K-Tag) transponder customers and those cash customers to be aware of is that we have kind of flip-flopped the lanes,” said Rachel Bell, director of business services and customer relations for the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

The key is to keep left and keep moving if you’re paying electronically.

Those paying by cash exit to the right, where they will pick up their entry ticket or pay cash and then use a merge lane to get back up to highway speeds.

Two left lanes allow drivers to move through the toll area at highway speeds.

“It’s not just for customer convenience because of the highway speeds but it’s a huge safety improvement,” Bell said. “It separates slower traffic that needs to stop and get a ticket or stop and pay from traffic that can continue on.”

It also removes the toll plaza from the middle of the road and puts it out of the way.

Drivers who get confused and accidentally end up in the high-speed lanes should keep moving.

Equipment will take pictures of vehicle license plates going through without a valid pass and the Kansas Turnpike will send violations in the mail to the registered owners.

The fine for passenger vehicles is about $20. For vehicles with trailers and commercial vehicles, the fine ranges from $27 to about $128.

Drivers are urged to make sure their K-Tag is valid by going to www.myktag.com or calling 1-800-USE-KTAG. People can also use the PayIt Kansas mobile app to manage their account.

The conversion of the eastern terminal is part of the Kansas Turnpike efforts to switch to the new style of tolling.

“That is a pretty big shift for us in terms of how we toll here in Kansas,” Bell said.

Those passing through the tolls near Bonner Springs have already had a taste of open road tolling. The westbound lanes in the toll area switched to the new style in August.

Although the terminal became fully operational Tuesday, continued construction in the area the next few months will keep highway speeds down. Drivers are asked to follow the posted speed limits.

The $13.4 million project to convert the eastern terminal began in March and should be completed in the next few months, depending on the weather.

In addition to the K-Tag, drivers can also use Oklahoma’s Pikepass and passes used on Texas roads. For a complete list of accepted passes, including commercial accepted passes, go to www.ksturnpike.com/travel/tolls.

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb