A long-range plan for future highway projects in the Lawrence-Kansas City metropolitan area suggests that Kansas Highway 10 between Lawrence and Johnson County should become a partial toll road.
The plan, released today by the Kansas Department of Transportation, proposes that in the next 20 years or so, K-10 should be widened to six lanes by adding "high occupancy toll," or HOT lanes, in each direction.
Those are lanes in which mass transit and car pool vehicles travel free of charge, but single-occupant vehicles have to pay a toll. HOT lanes have become an increasingly popular transportation feature in congested urban areas to both encourage carpooling and raise revenue.
K-10 Corridor Plan ( .PDF )
The recommendation is part of the Five County Regional Transportation Study, a project that has been in the works for at least three years by KDOT, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Office and the Mid-America Regional Council.
The group released a preliminary report in 2010. The final report released today will be used to identify projects that may be undertaken in a future multiyear transportation program, after the current program, known as T-WORKS, is completed in 2020.
The proposed HOT lanes for K-10 are slated for the 2030-2040 decade.
Douglas County Commissioner Mike Gaughn, who served on the planning group, said that by that time, as development continues along K-10 in southeast Lawrence and Johnson County, he believes there will be a need to widen K-10 to six lanes, and toll lanes may be the only viable way of funding it.
"The traditional source of funding is fuel taxes," Gaughan said. "As cars and trucks become more efficient and use less fuel, there will necessarily be less funding derived from that source. You're obviously seeing this across the country and tolling is becoming a more regular way to fund projects on this scale."
The cost of adding the HOT lanes from East 1750 Road to Interstate 435 is estimated at $205.6 million, according to the report.
That was just one of several recommendations for K-10, which has become a high-volume route for people who commute between Lawrence and the Kansas City metro area.
And the K-10 corridor plan is just one of several parts of an overall long-range plan for the metro area. The study also includes plans for the I-70, I-435 and I-35 corridors, as well as the U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor and others.
One proposed project that is not recommended in the study is the so-called "Outer Loop" around the metro area, a kind of second ring around the area a few miles beyond the I-435 loop.
For K-10, some of the other, more immediate recommendations, and their estimated costs, for construction beginning around 2020 include:
• Widening the existing road from Interstate 70 to U.S. Highway 59 to a four-lane freeway: $98.5 million.
• Expanding operating hours for the transit K-10 Connector Service: $10.1 million over 10 years.
• Widening K-10 between K-7 and I-435 to eight lanes: $82.2 million.
• Building a bicycle path along K-10 across K-7 to Prairie Star Parkway to connect with existing paths: $1.1 million.
• Installing dynamic message signs to warn drivers of upcoming travel conditions and a camera system to monitor the real-time flow of traffic between East 1750 Road and Cedar Creek Road: $2.5 million.
• Constructing Park and Ride facilities near Eudora and DeSoto, as well as near U.S. 59 and East 1750 Road: $3 million.
• Adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities on all new or reconstructed bridges over K-10: $1.6 million.