The Kansas Turnpike is on track to be widened to six lanes from Lawrence to Kansas Highway 7, a 20-mile-long project that could get started some time in the next 10 years.
Part of the work is estimated to cost more than $100 million, and that’s only to design the project and build it up to the new Tonganoxie-Eudora interchange. The remaining stretch to K-7 would come after 2020, work for which costs have not yet been estimated.
The anticipated schedule is part of the Kansas Turnpike Authority’s 2010 Long-Term Needs Study, presented recently to the authority’s board of directors for review. Decisions about actual spending will come later.
“The thing with this project is it will depend on how traffic grows,” said David Jacobson, the turnpike’s chief engineer.
The turnpike already has plenty of work going in the area. Past the midway point is an ongoing $130 million project to replace the turnpike’s two Kansas River bridges, overhaul interchanges and make other improvements in Lawrence, a job expected to be finished by the end of next year.
Next up: replacement of 6.4 miles of pavement along the turnpike, from the East Lawrence interchange to just past the Lawrence Service Area east of town.
That will be expected to cost $23 million, with work beginning this summer and continuing through the end of next year.
Traffic will be squeezed to one lane in each direction during construction, while access to the service area will be maintained from both directions throughout the entire project, said Rex Fleming, project engineer.
“It’s a complete reconstruction, from the ground up,” Fleming said.
While the pavement replacement project will be limited to two lanes, the job will include making preparations for the eventual widening to six, Fleming said.