Drivers from Tonganoxie to Eudora soon will have reason to be thankful: A rebuilt Leavenworth County Road 1 is scheduled to be carrying traffic early next month.
“That’s opening earlier than I anticipated,” said Rex Fleming, project engineer for the Kansas Turnpike Authority, which is managing the work. “That’s good news for us. It’s good for the residents, and that’s the main thing.”
The combined $18 million project — mixing together money from the turnpike authority, Leavenworth County, the city of Tonganoxie and state and federal departments of transportation — long has carried a deadline of late 2009.
Now the finish lines are taking shape.
In early September, Fleming said, the rebuilt section of County Road 1 will be open to traffic. It’s a 5.62-mile stretch of road, from just south of Tonganoxie, at the intersection with U.S. Highway 24-40, to the intersection with Kansas Highway 32.
The project features wider lanes, paved shoulders and a smoother profile, so drivers will be able to see better by driving on lower hills and through shallower dips. The work also includes a new bridge over the turnpike, something that’s been in place for months but unavailable to drivers as they pass underneath.
The new turnpike interchange itself is set to open by Thanksgiving, and it will come with its share of firsts.
The interchange will be a first for Leavenworth County, and it will operate without any workers on site. The exit and entrance booths will be fully automated.
Traffic entering the turnpike will have two options: Use a lane for K-TAG, which is for customers with readers on their windshields that automatically calculate and bill them for tolls; or use a lane with an automated ticker printer.
Each ramp for drivers exiting the turnpike will have two options: A single lane for K-TAG users, or two lanes equipped with automated payment machines. Those machines will read a driver’s turnpike ticket, then inform the driver how much of a toll is owed; drivers then pay using paper bills, coins or a payment card.
Anyone with a problem will be able to communicate with an actual toll attendant off-site for assistance, using a push-button connection via video and audio.