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New interchange has tremendous advantage

Aug. 1, 2001 (Release 01-098)


News Contact: Kim Stich, (785) 296-3585

New interchange has tremendous advantage

Determining future transportation needs can be difficult, especially when city, county, state and turnpike roadways are all located in a small area in east Topeka. By taking all four agencies needs into consideration and combining them together into one big project, the new East Topeka Interchange will be a tremendous advantage for motorists in east Topeka. Originally, the Oakland Expressway, that now stops at S.E. 6th Street, was eventually to be extended south and west to connect to I-70 and that was it no direct connection to go east or west on the Turnpike and no access to Rice Road. The original concept also did not allow the Kansas Turnpike room to expand and include new technology to assist motorists. Access for city and county roads to I-70 and the Turnpike would have been considered separately at some point in the future. KDOT and the KTA decided to join forces and requested the City of Topeka and Shawnee County to join them. "Each entity was pursuing separate plans on how to solve transportation problems in this area," said Steve King, KDOT Squad Leader in charge of design on the East Topeka Interchange. "The two agencies got together and developed a plan that would serve each other well along with the local streets and county roads in that area." City and county funds were predicated by a vote of taxpayers on August 6, 1996, to extend a quarter-cent sales tax. It passed by a large margin. "A lot of people wanted to see it done and theyre getting a good bang for their buck," King said. The total project cost was originally estimated at $98.6 million, but now it is expected to cost about $5 million less. The project funds are 50 percent from KDOT, 41 percent from the KTA, 4.5 percent from the City of Topeka and 4.5 percent from Shawnee County. The East Topeka Interchange will feature several safety enhancements:

  • Helping local and through traffic;
  • Connecting the KTA with I-70 and the Oakland Expressway;
  • Reducing congestion at the existing toll plaza by building an improved toll facility;
  • Using roundabouts at the Rice Road/I-70 ramp terminals to handle the large volumes of traffic coming to and from I-70.