Drivers beware: the summer construction season is getting underway, this time with the ugliest backups expected in Johnson County and more routine maintence east of the state line.
But same as usual, the warmer weather will bring a lot of projects throughout the Kansas City area, which means work zones to navigate and potential delays all over town.
“It’s just like every construction season,” said Kim Qualls, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation. “We got both preservation or maintenance projects and we also got construction projects There’s going to be traffic impacts from now until fall.”
The same is true on the Missouri side, but drivers there will be spared the bumper-to-bumper nightmare that came with last year’s repair of 18 bridges and ramps in or near downtown Kansas City.
“That was a magnitude almost exponentially higher than we have ever had to attempt because of just that volume of traffic on the roadway,” said Perry Allen, district construction and material engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
“We are kind of sliding into this quiet maintenance mode area where we are taking care of our system,” he said.
This year’s biggest project, which is expected to start in late May or early June, is on the Kansas side, where crews will take on a massive overhaul of the Interstate 435/Interstate 35/Kansas 10 interchange.
The $288 million Johnson County Gateway project is the largest highway project ever done in Kansas.
At a recent ground breaking in Lenexa for the project, state and local officials said it will not only help traffic, but the area’s economic future.
“It’s key for growth,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. “This has an economic projected impact of $1.3 billion dollars — that’s economic growth.”
More than 230,000 vehicles move through that area on a daily basis. By 2040, that’s projected to grow to more than 380,000.
“It’s backed up now too often at key parts of the day,” Brownback said. “We want to make sure to relieve that and also open up other areas for development so we can continue to grow jobs and add jobs.”
Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King called the project a “dream project.”
“It has all the elements that we can correct on a project in a large urban area like Kansas City,” he said.
That includes addressing safety issues and providing an economic benefit. The work is expected to be completed by winter of 2016.
“K-10, I-435 and I-35 are going to flow much smoother, relieving the congestion that we see today and also we are anticipating being able to eliminate about 50 percent of the future 2040 issues that we perceive,” King said.
But that’s just the tip of the construction projects taking place this year.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s key projects:
Bridge repairs and preventive maintenance along Interstate 70 at the Jackson Curve could be the most intrusive to commuter traffic in Jackson County. Workers will replace the outside barrier wall and some bridge joints. No start date has been set.
A $64 million Manchester Bridge replacement project near the Interstate 70 and Interstate 435 interchange is underway in Jackson County. There should be minimal impact on traffic during construction.
Work is underway to rehabilitate the bridges along Interstate 635 at the Missouri 9 and Interstate 29 interchanges in Platte County. Once completed, I-635 will be resurfaced from the Missouri River to I-29.
A $10 million project to widen Missouri 210 from two to four lanes between Eldon Road and Missouri 291 is underway in Clay County. The project includes rehabilitating the railroad bridge along the stretch of the road.
The Kansas and Missouri transportation departments are working to replace the U.S. 69 bridges over the Missouri River in Platte and Wyandotte counties. The $79 million project will replace the Fairfax and Platte Purchase bridges. That project should get underway late this year.
A $39 million project will improve Interstate 35 from Vivion Road to Pleasant Valley Road, including the I-35 and Pleasant Valley interchange, Church Road, Sobbie Road, Pleasant Valley Road, South Liberty Parkway and U.S. 69 in Clay County. The work is not expected to start until late summer.
Crews are replacing the pavement markings along Interstate 35 from 75th Street to 18th Street and along U.S. 69 from Interstate 35 to Shawnee Mission Parkway as part of a $587,238 project in Johnson County.
Work got underway last week on a $9.5 million project to replace the Roe Avenue bridge over Interstate 435 in Overland Park. A new diverging-diamond interchange will be built, which will also accommodate pedestrian traffic. The pedestrian bridge east of Roe will be removed.
Construction will continue on the Kansas 7/Interstate 70 interchange. This year’s work includes building most of the west half of the interchange, which will complete Phase 1 of the project in Wyandotte County.
A $2.38 million project will replace the Gibbs Road bridge over Interstate 635 in Wyandotte County.
“The best thing for drivers is to check daily what impacts may be going on — what traffic impacts they may encounter on their commutes,” Qualls said. “That way they can allow for weather and the extra time depending what the impacts are.”
For daily information on road projects, go to the Kansas Department of TransportationKansas City Metro Daily Lane Closure Info website or the Missouri Department of Transportation Kansas City Road Zones website
Qualls urged caution while traveling through work zones.
“Pay attention, stay focused and put that cell phone down,” she said.