The Kansas Turnpike has been recognized as an important corridor for commerce and for providing unparalleled mobility to the state's motorists.
The 236-mile toll road was built in 1955-1956 in a record 22 months. It was built as a toll facility to meet the need for a modern highway without increasing the tax burden of Kansas residents.
With the Turnpike complete by the time the Federal Interstate System began to develop in 1956, the Federal Highway Administration designated sections of the Turnpike as part of the Interstate system in 1957. It now carries four Interstate route designations - I-70, I-335, I-35, and I-470.
The Turnpike provides a safe and efficient freeway linking the state's three largest metropolitan areas - Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita. It carries 32 million vehicles a year on trips averaging more than 43 miles each. It is governed by the five-member Kansas Turnpike Authority.
Turnpike Increasing to Six Lanes
Work to widen a 12.69-mile stretch of I-70 between Topeka and Lawrence began in spring 2005 to handle the tremendous traffic growth in the area. A 1994 long-term needs study showed a 6 percent annual traffic growth over the past 10 years on the corridor. The widening will add another lane in each direction; a new, higher 51-inch median barrier; and important drainage changes. The project is estimated at $75 million.
Also tied in with this project will be the reconstruction of the 3,000-foot bridge over the Kansas River near Lawrence. The bridge work will begin in 2009 and is estimated to cost $130 million. The existing Kansas River Bridge is the original bridge, built in 1956 when the Turnpike was first constructed.