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U.S. 69 Improvements

U.S. 69 is a major highway that carries commuters, travelers, and other drivers through Overland Park. The Kansas Department of Transportation maintains highways in Overland Park, including U.S. 69 and I-435, I-35, and portions of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Improvements to U.S. 69 are a top priority for Overland Park residents, businesses, and elected officials. This web page provides information and updates about any upcoming improvements to U.S. 69 in Overland Park, and will be updated as discussions about improvements progress.

Improvements Needed

Commuters and travelers on the U.S. 69 corridor in Overland Park are frustrated with congestion and increasing travel times. As development continues, traffic volume is projected to double, and travel times are projected to triple by 2045. Transportation improvements are needed to address congestion and safety issues and keep the Overland Park community and economy moving.

The City of Overland Park and KDOT are exploring options to improve the U.S. 69 corridor.

The current estimate for the cost of improving this section of the highway is $300 million.

Funding Partnership

There is not enough money to fund all improvement projects across the state of Kansas. Communities can accelerate project schedules by providing some level of matching funds. Historically, Overland Park has helped fund state transportation projects, and Overland Park recognizes the need to help fund a portion of the improvements needed on U.S. 69.

One option for a funding partnership is the addition of a toll lane.

Project Status

Currently, there is no funding in Overland Park’s budget for U.S. 69 improvements or a funding match.

In 2019, City staff requested KDOT perform a high-level Phase 1 feasibility study. This assesses whether a new toll lane in each direction, in addition to the existing two free lanes in each direction, are feasible for this section of the highway from an engineering and economic standpoint.

Pre-Planning Analysis Presentation

City and KDOT staff presented the results of a high-level study considering express toll lane feasibility at a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting on March 16, 2020.

The study indicated express toll lanes are a possibility for this corridor of U.S. 69 and warrant additional consideration. Documents presented on March 16 are available below.

How Express Toll Lanes Work

Express toll lanes can help manage long-term congestion.

This concept is already used in many major metropolitan areas like Austin, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis. Express lanes offer drivers more reliable timeframes to get to their destinations and take back the time they would have wasted sitting in traffic.

The following steps explain the express toll lane experience:

  1. Drivers traveling on the highway will see toll signs as they approach the express toll lane area. Toll signs display the current price for drivers with a K-TAG. The price will vary based on the level of congestion in the express toll lane and will be adjusted to maintain free-flow traffic.
  2. A break in the double white lines on the highway will show drivers where they can enter and exit the express toll lane.
  3. Drivers who enter the express toll lane will automatically be charged based on toll rates assessed at that time. Overhead antennas communicate with K-TAG transponders in vehicles to record trips and collect tolls.
  4. Drivers who choose not to enter the express toll lane can continue to drive in general-purpose “free” lanes without paying a toll.
  5. All drivers exit the highway or continue past the express toll lane area continue with no need to stop for toll booths.

In busy periods when the toll price for using the lane rises, some drivers will choose not to enter the toll lane. The drivers who choose to pay a toll are provided faster, more consistent travel times. By offering a consistently (relatively) free-flowing lane at all times, there is less pressure to build additional highway lanes in the future.

Toll Lane Implementation Process

Tolling new lanes can help local governments raise matching funds for transportation improvements. Here is how the process works:

  1. Local governments must request and work with KDOT on feasibility studies. Two-pronged feasibility processes involve technical analysis and community engagement assessments, including:
    • Reviewing traffic counts – to see if a more detailed study makes sense.
    • Estimating revenue potential.
    • Determining public support for tolling.
  2. If feasibility studies are positive and there’s local support, KDOT and Overland Park would make a joint proposal to the Kansas Turnpike Authority for consideration.
  3. If the Kansas Turnpike Authority Board approves the proposal, KDOT and Overland Park would make a joint proposal to the State Finance Council for consideration.
  4. If approved at the State Finance Council, the project moves forward as a priority for the state highway system.

Each step includes continued review to ensure the community’s commitment to the project.

Funding Stays in Overland Park

All toll revenue collected from a facility or improvement is required by state statute to remain with that roadway. Tolls pay for ongoing construction and maintenance of the improved roadway.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Will there still be a "free" option to drive on U.S. 69?

Absolutely.

The 2019 Kansas legislature approved changes to approved tolling projects, allowing an option for express lane tolling as a funding source that didn’t exist in Kansas before. Under the changes, only new lanes may be tolled. Any existing “free” lanes must remain free.

Why not just add another "free" lane to U.S. 69?

On a central, urban corridor like U.S. 69, building an additional general-purpose lane would not alleviate congestion because that lane would soon be full, perpetuating the congestion problem. Express lanes are an innovative congestion management tool and could make sense on U.S. 69 where bottlenecks occur daily during peak travel times.

What about buses? How do express toll lanes and public transit work together?

Express toll lanes and transit are complimentary. They can work together by offering transit a free pass on the express toll lane, improving on-time transit service reliability and encouraging more transit use.

Where would the toll lane start and end?

The high-level Phase 1 toll feasibility study is current evaluating whether tolling a new lane is a feasible option between 103rd and 151st Streets.

Will there be toll booths? How will drivers pay to use the express toll lane?

There are no toll booths with express toll lanes.

Drivers choose if they want to pay to use the free-flowing express toll lane by using a K-TAG or other similar transponder. If they choose to enter the express toll lane, their K-TAG account is automatically charged based on the toll rate assessed at that time.

How will drivers know if they are in the toll lane?

Signage and striping are used to make sure everyone understands the new lane is a toll lane. Ample space and signage will allow drivers time to enter and exit the express toll lane as needed.

How much will the express toll lane cost?

The exact cost would depend on a variety of factors. Toll signs before the express toll lane area would display the current price for drivers with a K-TAG. The price will vary based on the level of congestion in the express toll lane and will be adjusted to maintain free-flow traffic.

When will the public get to be involved in the process?

If the high-level Phase 1 feasibility study is positive and there is support from the City Council, KDOT and the City will begin a longer, Phase 2 feasibility study, which will include more detailed engineering and financing research and a public engagement component, including a public meeting to assess support for the project.

Where can I find more information about this project?

KDOT has provided several resources on its website that explain various aspects of express toll lanes.

For more information, please contact:

Lorraine Basalo
Overland Park City Engineer
913-895-6023
lorraine.basalo@opkansas.org

Lindsey Douglas
KDOT Deputy Secretary
785-296-3285
lindsey.douglas@ks.gov