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Archive for Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Kansas Turnpike interchange in Leavenworth County a first of its kind

Kansas Turnpike Authority President and CEO Michael L. Johnston, standing at right, reports by phone while the first vehicle makes its way through the new Tonganoxie/Eudora Interchange at Milepost 212 on the Kansas Turnpike on Tuesday. The interchange is the first of its kind on the turnpike and will be completely automated with K-Tag and self-pay machines similar to those found in large retail or grocery stores.

Kansas Turnpike Authority President and CEO Michael L. Johnston, standing at right, reports by phone while the first vehicle makes its way through the new Tonganoxie/Eudora Interchange at Milepost 212 on the Kansas Turnpike on Tuesday. The interchange is the first of its kind on the turnpike and will be completely automated with K-Tag and self-pay machines similar to those found in large retail or grocery stores.

December 29, 2009, 7:51 a.m. Updated December 29, 2009, 5:00 p.m.

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New turnpike interchange open

A new interchange on the turnpike near Tonganoxie is now open. The interchange, a $16 million project, features a completely automated toll booth. Enlarge video

The Kansas Turnpike’s first fully automated interchange is now open.

Tuesday morning, a car carrying three men headed through the interchange, which is eight miles east of Lawrence.

The interchange is between Tonganoxie and Eudora.

Tonganoxie resident J.W. Evans was the first to drive through the interchange — and he served as chauffeur to fellow Tonganoxie resident Bill New, chairman of First State Bank and Trust, and Bill Green, former Leavenworth County public works director. The three were asked by turnpike officials to be the first through the interchange.

“I think it’s great,” Evans said of Leavenworth County’s first turnpike interchange. “I think it’s going to take a few years for it to be paid for. But with the growth we’ll have I think it will be an asset for us.”

Mary Turkington, KTA board chairwoman, agreed. Turkington, who has been on the KTA board since 1997, said she expects the interchange to not only benefit economic development in the immediate area, but also statewide.

The interchange, as well as improvements to Leavenworth County Road 1 between Tonganoxie and Kansas Highway 32, cost $16.7 million.

Comments

Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

Actually, if KTA just went to a 21st century camera-plate billing system, every road could be an access road to the turnpike and the concerns of those like BigPrune would disappear.

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StrangerCreek 4 years, 3 months ago

favra, there are thousands of us living in the box between Tonganoxie, Eudora, Linwood and DeSoto that have had to travel all the way to Lawrence or Bonner Springs to get access to the Turnpike. Lawrence has three turnpike access points and it's nice we finally got one for us "few urban sprawlers" that live out here. Last night it saved me a full half hour getting home from west Lawrence. I didn't have to suffer the pains of getting across to north Lawrence or herd my way east down 23rd and snake through Eudora.

Don't worry about it people. For us, it's real progress.

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barrypenders 4 years, 3 months ago

Good point Wiiillllburrrr....I like "Mr. Ed". Devlopement action is on it's way from NASCAR west. I wonder how the Golf/Casino/Family Fun Resort is coming North of Edwardsville?

Stimulus, Lawrence Economic Deadhead, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless you

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 3 months ago

watch for industrial development in Leavenworth County and job growth, this exit has been planned for decades in conjunction with the Nascar track

too bad Lawrence had their head in the sand and drummed up support to run off the Delaware Tribe, now the Casinos are in the DOT and the traffic exits are in Leavenworth County.

Lawrence is still stuck in promoting the Civil War.

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emptymind 4 years, 3 months ago

The Turnpike should also extend to Denver, if the quality of the road can be maintained. I've lived and driven roads all over the country and Kansas has one of the best highway systems, hands down. Try driving I-95 between New York and Providence. Or I-5 between Seattle and Portland. Ever wonder why Missouri is know as the 'pothole' state? Just drive past Royals stadium going to St Louis and you'll find out. If I lived in MO I'd be embarrased by that stretch of roadway

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

At least this roadway is paying for itself otherwise personal vehicle travel is a huge load on taxpayers.

Can a K-10 connector be built onto this interchange so some K-10 traffic can go out around Lawrence?

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tumbilweed 4 years, 3 months ago

Tom you've written two posts at least without the O word in them!

Sandrat, you can take the train to St. Louis. But I imagine there is a good reason Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads haven't built a track between Denver and Kansas City already.

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farva 4 years, 3 months ago

It is actually County Road 1, not 25. 1 is a few miles west. Logically, County 25 would have made much more sense. As dudedog 12 noticed, this interchange makes no sense at all. Nobody from Tonganoxie will use it, it's considerably out of the way to get to both Lawrence and KC...and it's not conveniently close to Eudora either. Maybe if you live in Eudora and want to go to the airport or downtown KC it may be useful, but that is it. It may be convenient for a few urban sprawlers who live right by it....but that is very few. I just can't see any commerical development or much use from this interchange.

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 3 months ago

Well, I've had a K-Tag for years, but really don't know if I'll have a need to use this new interchange, except as I said for the airport.....I'm going to try it a couple times and weigh it out. I'm not much for backtracking, but I also hate multiple turns, lights, stop signs, slow speed limits, congested lanes with idiots going slow in front of you, Deputy Dogs at every point along the way etc. As far as going to KC or Lawrence or anywhere west, it isn't prudent to head all the way down cty rd. 25 just to hit I-70 earlier on. The fees associated with toll roads should be the last thing anyone would worry about these days, if you get my drift.

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Steven Gaudreau 4 years, 3 months ago

I could be remembering it wrong but I thought the original deal with the turnpike was that once the debt for the construction was paid off, the state would take control of the turnpike. I know that never happened. I also remember not long ago the turnpike was going to be sold. Not sure what happened with that deal either way.

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BigPrune 4 years, 3 months ago

This is a quality of life issue. The turnpike has bypassed Lawrence from K-10 to I-70 through Eudora/Tonganoxie. This should take some more tax dollars away from Lawrence. I hope all the leftist pinko commie SLT hating anti-business people in Lawrence are happy.

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beobachter 4 years, 3 months ago

Who cares, does it affect you? If you are a regular user, yes, if not no.

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BigPrune 4 years, 3 months ago

I wonder if the KTA will have their annual meeting in Europe again?

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beobachter 4 years, 3 months ago

It is a toll, not a tax. It only applies to user.

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dlkrm 4 years, 3 months ago

Yes, taxes pay for it. That's what you pay when you exit each trip. It is a tax.

The toll road was supposed to have been made toll-free once the initial cost of building it was paid for, which is now more than 40 years ago. Just another example of a project getting funded by making a promise not kept.

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Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

"Kansas does not need a tollway."

Reality begs to differ.

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indostruct 4 years, 3 months ago

dudedog 12, the turnpike goes to 18th Street in KC not the eastern terminal.

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beobachter 4 years, 3 months ago

Never fails to amaze me the sheer ignorance of people about the turnpike and how its financed. It is not owned by or maintained by the state. If you don't use it, not one cent of your money goes to pay for it. I find that it's cost is worth it when I go to either KC or Wichita and points in between. Less stop and go traffic, faster, easier driving and my vehicle gets much better mpg than using other roads. It's your choice, just don't post BS about your taxes paying for it.

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barrypenders 4 years, 3 months ago

Turnpike exits/enterances assure a "Green" enviroment wherever they are located. North Lawrence is a nice example of what the toll road does for an economy. Lawrence is a similar city to Columbia Missouri in size, and look how "Green" North Lawrence exit is comparatively.

Stimulus, Stifled Growth, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless you all

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jayhawklawrence 4 years, 3 months ago

My questions are about the cost justification for an automated toll. The automation and upkeep of the hardware and software is very expensive.

We need to find jobs for people and providing the opportunity for the unemployed to work a toll booth seems like a very good thing to me.

Technology, while great, is not always a better alternative to real human beings. I think we need to question whether eliminating labor is always a good thing.

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Steve Miller 4 years, 3 months ago

Being a long range comutter, i traveled it on opening day. It is not saving time and is very expensive. I have no doubt it will be paid for quickly at the current cost of 1.25 to travel from the east entrance to this exit. As you well know I-70 runs south west ,,, so state av. ( if you are traveling from east to north west, as most of us are), remains the quickest route. It is 4.7 miles from the exit to the stop lights at tonganoxie. Good highway improvement however.. Someone got gain at least. No matter who you are or where you are going, being an out of state visitor or what ever, it serves no gain, except politics for whoever..

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Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

Bob,

You are wrong. If the state government removed all the tolls along I-70, I-35 and I-335, the Highway Trust Fund dollars our state receives would more than cover the cost of maintaining the existing roadway. So what Kansas collects in tollway dollars is in addition to Highway Trust Fund dollars.

You can keep repeating it, it doesn't make it right.

Once again, the state receives interstate funding at a reduced rate for the turnpike, because the turnpike is a toll road established prior to 1956. This funding is part of the formula the Kansas Turnpike Authority uses to budget for any given year.

The very idea that the State of Kansas is spending dollars dedicated by the federal government to specific interstate highway miles is ludicrous. To do so would cause the state to forfeit ALL of its funding for Interstates in Kansas, including the remainder of I-70 and I-35.

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kansasmutt 4 years, 3 months ago

The turnpike is run by the turnpike. It belongs to a corporation, not the state.It is set up to pay for itself and not any other roads. If it ever gets to the point of extra money, it reverts to state ownership, and that will never happen.The right of way was bought by the state, but is now owned by the state. It is a very wierd deal and set up. I will enjoy the new exit. Now i have NO reason to pass through the terrible city of Lawrence :-) I am a happy camper.

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 3 months ago

People, we need roads like this.

We cannot set up any sort of inter-urban light rail due to the expence involved, therefore as a practical matter, light rail is off the table.

Additionally, the country is just too darned big to do it right.

US cities are in many cases just too far apart for rail to make sense and no rail infrastructure exists any more anyway and wuld represent an additional expence..

We are much better off relying on new fuels, enrgy efficient vehicles and good roads such as this bypass than trying to re-invent the wheel, as it were.

Bus routes may be viable on high traffic routes but only rarely; see: infrastructure problem.

Ya still gotta get from the bus station to your final destination.

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 3 months ago

I've actually pondered if this would not be the best way to get to the airport----a trip we make routinely. We would have to double back to the west about 4 miles, but giving the route we take now, with slow speed limits and stoplights etc., this interchange would allow higher speeds almost the entire way, but only adding a few miles.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 3 months ago

Bob,

You are wrong. If the state government removed all the tolls along I-70, I-35 and I-335, the Highway Trust Fund dollars our state receives would more than cover the cost of maintaining the existing roadway. So what Kansas collects in tollway dollars is in addition to Highway Trust Fund dollars. Just put the shackles on your own wrists, man. You are actually defending a completely unnecessary tax.

And to your point about budgeting, it's actually a 20% differential. The average I spend per month on tolls is $62.50. Some months I spend $50; Some months I spend $75. I'm not sure about your math, but $12.50/$62.50 is 20%. And a few additional or fewer trips to Emporia every month makes me a budgeting pro. Do your math skills "bother you" or is your arrogance combined with ignorance more annoying?

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sandrat 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight,

Sorry dude, but your argument is full of holes.

I commute to KC from North Lawrence 5 days a week, and I choose to take K-32 instead of the turnpike. It takes a little longer, but is generally a more peaceful drive. I genuinely enjoy it and only take the Turnpike when I'm running late. Maybe you should just go to work earlier.

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Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

Also - and this is important - the state of Kansas receives federal highway dollars for the stretch of road known as the tollway. The legislature simply chooses to spend those dollars on unrelated things, all while maintaining the tollway with toll money.

You know what else is important? That this entire paragraph from STRS is blatantly false.

Federal interstate highway funding for the Kansas Turnpike is significantly less than for the rest of the interstate highway system because the Turnpike is a toll road that was established prior to 1956.

Any federal funding supplied for the interstate highways that are part of the Turnpike system must be spent to maintain those highways. If not, the State of Kansas risks losing ALL of its interstate funding.

Take away the federal funding for the portions of I-70, I-335, and I-35 that make up the turnpike and tolls would simply increase to make up the difference.

Have any other falsehoods you wish to use to support your ranting? Does it bother you that your $50-$75/month for the turnpike represents a 50% gap in budgeting? Does it bother you that it represents an average of $2 for every day, including weekends?

Please restrict yourself to accurate and verifiable claims to support your poorly thought out positions. Thanks.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 3 months ago

"So the only people who pay for the turnpike are the people who use the turnpike."

Which, for people who live in Lawrence, is a financial kick in the pants. I literally have to budget $50-$75 per month just for the tollway.

Also - and this is important - the state of Kansas receives federal highway dollars for the stretch of road known as the tollway. The legislature simply chooses to spend those dollars on unrelated things, all while maintaining the tollway with toll money.

Many of you are not only satisfied with this unnecessary tax, you defend it. Why?

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Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

No offense, but you guys are exactly the type of pushovers the big-government crowd wants. Say nothing, fork over your income, and let Washington take control.

Just like Washington has taken control of the Kansas Turnpike, eh?

STRS providing yet another fine example of how not to comment on a story.

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Lee Eldridge 4 years, 3 months ago

Thank you rorik23. I was a toll collector for 8 years and it's worth putting the record straight. Many obviously don't know what the KTA does, or how the money is used.

The KTA is a not-for-profit organization that runs the turnpike. No tax dollars are used. The tolls charged to use the turnpike are only used FOR the turnpike. The KTA even pays for the training and wages of the troopers that work the turnpike. So the only people who pay for the turnpike are the people who use the turnpike. And as somebody mentioned before, much is paid by travelers from out of state.

If the KTA was dissolved and the turnpike became a "free" road, then tax dollars would have to be used to maintain the roadway. I doubt that the state has any interest in being responsible for it and are probably happy to leave well enough alone.

If the state WERE to get a hold of it, it's more likely that they would INCREASE the tolls to help fund other projects, than they would to remove the tolls. (In my opinion.)

Take it from somebody who has traveled a lot of midwestern highways -- the turnpike is a pleasure to drive. And the KTA does a fine job of maintaining the road.

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rorik23 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight - You set nothing straight;in fact, you blur reality to fit your imagination.

I did not suggest that all roads or highways should be tollways.

You should note that the Kansas Turnpike is completely self-sustained, and no tax dollars are utilized to maintain the turnpike. In fact, taxes collected at the service areas along the turnpike don't even benefit the turnpike. If tolls were no longer collected, and tax dollars were required to sustain the highway, one could argue that higher taxes would need to be collected in order to maintain the same level of quality.

If you argument is simply against big government and taxes, then I argue that your argument has nothing to do with the turnpike.

Finally, the Kansas Turnpike pre-dates the Interstate Highway System. The Kansas Legislature set up the Kansas Turnpike Authority as a private entity.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 3 months ago

Using the logic of sandrat, handley and rorick, the state should turn my cul de sac (and every other piece of pavement in the state) into a toll way.

I can see it now: the new fees could make the road in front of my house the third best inthe nation! Any excess funds could be used to for trains and schools and health care. And I wouldn't want to complain because all those new fees would be "an investment" in society and my children's future.

No offense, but you guys are exactly the type of pushovers the big-government crowd wants. Say nothing, fork over your income, and let Washington take control.

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mistygreen 4 years, 3 months ago

I am excited about this! I no longer have to drive through congested Lawrence traffic on 23rd Street and south Lawrence trafficway just to get to I-70. Yippeee!!!!!

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sandrat 4 years, 3 months ago

handley --

I completely agree. Kansas is considered a "fly-over" state anyway. Why should we not make I-70 a turnpike and maybe use the money from out-of-state truckers and tourist to fund an Amtrak line from KC to Denver.... okay, I know that Amtrak is a federal thing, but I bet the fed would pay most of the bill if KS brought a little money to the table. We could also use that money to refund some Kansas schools. How's that for dignity?

Heck, I think Missouri should turn I-70 from KC to St. Louis into a turnpike, and then use the money for a train between the two cities. I'd love to be able to get on a train in Lawrence to attend a basketball game in Columbia or visit the Arch in St. Louis or go skiing in Colorado.

Okay, enough daydreaming.

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sandrat 4 years, 3 months ago

Ah, the great "no taxation, but I still want my representation" argument. Give me a break. These are the same people who complain when the potholes get deep, but don't want to pay for it.

You know what, I'm proud to pay my taxes, I'm happy that the money goes to schools, and road construction and national defense. I'm proud to pay my taxes because that is an investment in my country... the country that my grandkids will inherit. And if I don't like the CEO or the CIO or the VP's of the corporation known as the federal or state government, then I can vote them out. That's more than I can say about my health care provider.

It's a turnpike, people. We've survived this long with it, and society hasn't collapsed. In fact, I think the whole state of New Jersey is a turnpike, but they haven't sunk into the sea. Get a grip.

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handley 4 years, 3 months ago

I-70 should be a toll road to the Colorado line tolls are collected from all users and they keep the highway in good condition.

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Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

In eastern and central Kansas, the million$ collected annually in tolls is, in effect, a tax not paid by drivers in other parts of the state and a tax not paid by drivers in states without toll roads.

Despite making up only 27% of the traffic, out of state travelers are estimated to pay 50% of the tolls collected on the Kansas Turnpike.

Thus, the turnpike generates more revenue from out of state travelers than a tax could.

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purplesage 4 years, 3 months ago

I question the validity of the KTA claim that this exit is the "only" automated, unstaffed one in the sytem. What about Admire? I exited there once and expected to get a ticket in the mail because the change counter thing didn't work - was clogged up. I called it in to somebody. Not sure that little exchange still exists.

This new unstaffed marvel represents more jobs replaced by technology - and didn't I read that the $100K + apiece machines were the reason for the delay, that they wouldn't work right? What are they going to do when the things mess up? Give you a free ride on the turnpike like Hy-Vee gives a free grocery item if it doesn't scan correctly? More likely, they'll give a $150 ticket and drag you to court.

Every state with a toll road promised to do away with the tolls once the road was paid for. It is really annoying to fork up for the turnpike and sit on the lousy "best highway in the state" in construction zones.

No, I'm not a fan of the turnpike.

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rorik23 4 years, 3 months ago

I don't understand the hostility toward the KTA. From what I understand, the turnpike is nearly self-sustained through its tolls. The remainder of the state's transportation resources can be attributed to the remainder of the state's roadways.

A recent study ranked Kansas' roadways 3rd in the nation, behind North Dakota and New Mexico.

It would be a perfect world if we didn't have to pay for anything, but that isn't realistic.

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ralphralph 4 years, 3 months ago

The Turnpike is the best highway in Kansas. We should aspire to improve the rest of our roads to match it.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 3 months ago

sandrat,

If stopping the flow of interstate traffic and herding drivers into pens to pay an unnecessary tax to a tollbooth attendant is your idea of a dignity, I don't know what to say. It's nearly as demeaning as spending all day April 15 filling out IRS tax forms or waiting in line at the DMV to pay annual taxes on a vehicle. And suggesting that Kansas drivers simply stop using I-70, I-35 and I-335 is not a solution.

Again, the ugliness of any toll road is that the state already gets federal highway dollars to maintain its roads (combined with fuel taxes, motor vehicle registration fees, excise taxes, sales taxes, surcharges on OTR drivers, etc.)

In eastern and central Kansas, the million$ collected annually in tolls is, in effect, a tax not paid by drivers in other parts of the state and a tax not paid by drivers in states without toll roads.

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Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says…

The amount our state government receives in federal transportation dollars is more than enough to pay for Kansas highways. The dollars the state collects in tolls has the effect of giving the government more money to spend on anything other than roads.

This paragraph is a great example of a poster making things up in a desperate attempt to counter reality.

I would love to see some examples of either federal transportation dollars or KS Turnpike collections being spent on anything other than roads.

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1029 4 years, 3 months ago

I heard the 100th person who exits 212 will get free tolls for life! I know what I'm doing all day long.

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sandrat 4 years, 3 months ago

91.5 KANU was reporting noon for the "grand opening". Glad to see the LJWorld is still a respected news authority in Kansas, and doesn't just reprint AP stories without bothering to add important details that locals will want to know about.

Wait, um... nevermind.

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sandrat 4 years, 3 months ago

Actually, I think we need more tollways. I don't know the details -- I think the turnpike funds are used to upgrade and maintain non-turnpike, state highways. Missouri gets federal dollars as well, but their roads suck.

And even if I'm wrong, it's not like TPA officials are buying hookers and meth with the money. It's a "use" tax, and would otherwise have to come from someplace else.

And serious... "insulting"? If the turnpike "insults" you, don't use it.

Hey LJWorld, can you post the prices for this new exit? At least from Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City? Oh wait, let me just do your job for you...

http://ksturnpike.com/tolls.shtml

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Richard Payton 4 years, 3 months ago

Wasn't opened at 6:30 A.M. this morning.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 3 months ago

Kansas does not need a tollway.

The amount our state government receives in federal transportation dollars is more than enough to pay for Kansas highways. The dollars the state collects in tolls has the effect of giving the government more money to spend on anything other than roads.

We do not need an annyoying, expensive, insulting tollway to operate our roadways.

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