The Overland Park City Council approved a resolution Monday night with the Kansas Department of Transportation on reconstruction of U.S. 69 highway and a new financing mechanism.
The resolution approved at Monday’s meeting allows for the City and KDOT together to propose to the state, construction and implementation of express toll lanes on the highway, between 103rd and 179th Streets.
KDOT and the City have studied a variety of solutions to improve public safety, reduce congestion and increase travel time predictability along U.S. 69. This included multiple community engagement processes.
Express toll lanes would allow drivers to choose to pay a toll to drive in a new, third lane that would be built in each direction of the highway. Drivers can also choose to use existing lanes that will continue to be toll-free general purpose lanes. In other cities where express toll lanes have been used, congestion issues improve across all lanes with the addition of express toll lanes.
“Innovative approaches like this one have been a hallmark of Overland Park for decades, and I’m optimistic about the opportunity for improving this backbone of the community,” said Mayor Carl Gerlach. “Express toll lanes are not only a creative option that will give us the best improvement project possible, but they are our best choice to make these improvements sooner.”
City staff presented an initial study of express toll lanes to the CIty Council in March of 2020. At that meeting, the City Council voted to support a more detailed tolling feasibility study.
KDOT presented the results of the detailed study, which included an extensive public engagement and outreach campaign, to the City Council on June 14.
“KDOT worked extensively to reach out to all corners of the community, and beyond, through surveys, focus groups, online community forums, and presentations to neighborhood homes associations, business groups, religious organizations, and more,” said Gerlach. “I applaud KDOT for working to ensure the community has a voice in this project.”
The study found that express toll lanes are the preferred strategy to address current and future congestion, in addition to serving as a funding opportunity for Overland Park’s local contribution to the project. Typically, Kansas cities contribute funding to help advance important infrastructure projects.
Express toll lanes generate revenue, so they also would provide a way for the City of Overland Park to generate its local contribution to U.S. 69 improvements and help accelerate the project’s construction schedule.
While the City’s partnership with KDOT is an important step toward funding the highway improvements, additional approval is needed at the state level to move the project forward.
The Kansas Turnpike Authority Board and State Finance Council must each consider and approve the use of express toll lanes to fund the City’s contribution to the project using express toll lanes.
If the project funding is approved at the state level, KDOT will advance the U.S. 69 improvements in its project development pipeline, with construction beginning as early as 2022.