U.S. 69 toll lane project to expand, with Overland Park paying an extra $10 million

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The Overland Park City Council on Monday agreed to add an additional $10 million in local costs to the U.S. 69 toll lane project, which will now include the reconstruction of the 167th Street interchange.

This past spring, the council approved the first phase of the U.S. 69 expansion, to widen the highway to six lanes from 103rd to 151st streets — a $300 million project paid for in part by making one lane in each direction an express toll lane. Drivers could choose to pay a toll for a faster commute. The other lanes would remain free.

Now, thanks to the passage of the federal infrastructure bill, the state will receive new funding to dedicate to the project, said Lindsey Douglas, deputy secretary with the Kansas Department of Transportation. And that will help accelerate work to improve the 167th Street interchange, from Metcalf Avenue to Antioch Road.

Plans call for U.S. 69 to eventually be expanded south to 179th Street.

The council on Monday voted 9-2 to approve the interchange reconstruction, which will include updating bridges and widening 167th Street to four lanes. The interchange now only provides an exit ramp for southbound traffic and an entrance ramp for northbound U.S. 69 traffic. The project would convert it into a full interchange with access in both directions.

The $30 million project will be paid for with $15 million in federal funds, plus $5 million from the state. The council agreed to contribute $10 million, which will be added to the city’s overall contribution to the highway project.

The city already agreed to contribute $20 million, which will come from revenue generated by the toll lanes. Now that will grow to $30 million, meaning the express toll lanes will be in operation for longer to pay off the city’s share.

KDOT officials have estimated that tolls would be collected until after 2040.

Toll rates would fluctuate, rising when there is greater demand. KDOT previously estimated that rush hour toll rates likely would be between 25 cents and 32 cents per mile, lower than the national average of 56 cents. A commuter driving through the entire stretch of the express lane five times a week could expect to pay a weekly average of $7.50 in tolls.

Construction on the U.S. 69 project could begin as early as next year.

Councilmen Scott Hamblin and Faris Farassati, who have been critical of the toll lane idea, voted against the proposal on Monday.

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