Kansas Department of Transportation "...to provide a statewide transportation system to meet the needs of Kansas."
  NEWS   Safe Not Sorry Image
Public Information

Kansas Turnpike & Canal Route Selected Kansas’s Top Transportation Infrastructure Projects of 20th Century

Hayden and Johnson Recognized as Top Public Officials


March 14, 2002


Contacts: Joe Manero & Matt Jeanneret


Kansas Turnpike & Canal Route

Selected Kansas’s Top Transportation

Infrastructure Projects of 20th Century

Hayden and Johnson Recognized as Top Public Officials

The Kansas Turnpike and the Canal Route have been selected as the state’s top two transportation infrastructure projects of the 20th century by the Washington, D.C.-based American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). Former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden and former Kansas Highway Commission State Engineer Walter Johnson were also named the state’s top transportation public officials of the past century.

The selections were revealed March 14 at an event hosted by the Kansas Department of Transportation. ARTBA members Bob Heitmann, vice president of Wichita-based Koch Performance Roads, Inc., and Norman Bowers, Kansas County Highway Association president, presented awards to Kansas DOT Secretary Dean Carlson, Kansas Turnpike Authority President/CEO Michael Johnston, Kansas Turnpike Authority Chairperson Mary Turkington, and former Governor Mike Hayden.

ARTBA, which celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year, conducted a national survey to help identify the top two transportation infrastructure projects and public officials of the past century in all 50 states. The survey was sent to members of Congress, the nation’s governors, state transportation department heads, newspaper editors, state and local chambers of commerce executives and college history professors.

The Kansas Turnpike was recognized as an important corridor for commerce and for providing unparalleled mobility to the state’s motorists.

The 236-mile Kansas Turnpike was built in 1955-1956 as a toll facility and construction was completed in a record 22 months. The turnpike construction provided a safe and efficient expressway linking the state’s three largest metropolitan areas—Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita—prior to the start of the Interstate program. It was subsequently incorporated into the national system and now carries four Interstate route designations. The design and construction of the Kansas Turnpike created 14 major interchanges and six service areas along a corridor that contained a challenging variety of terrain in addition to both urban and rural environments. The turnpike carries 51,000 vehicles a day on trips averaging more than 40 miles each. It is operated by the five-member Kansas Turnpike Authority.

The Canal Route was recognized because of its engineering achievements and its importance to the Kansas economy.

A 2.2-mile portion of I-135 in Wichita, the Canal Route at the time was the most costly and technically challenging project on the Kansas Interstate system. Construction began in 1968 on parts of I-135 leading to the new roadway. Work on the Canal Route itself began in 1971 and was completed in December 1979 at a cost of $32 million. It is a six-lane highway with three interchanges, a crossover bridge and four pedestrian bridges. The Canal Route channels traffic through Wichita’s core at speeds of 60 to 70 miles-per-hour and links with three other highway and freeway routes. It carries an average of 91,000 vehicles a day.

ARTBA also recognized two former Kansas public officials.

Mike Hayden (R), elected 41st governor in 1987, made improved transportation a priority during his campaign and tenure as governor. During his term, Hayden pushed for and successfully secured a comprehensive highway program that—for the first time in years—increased investment for new construction, maintenance and support for local transportation programs.

The late Walter Johnson was the state engineer for the Kansas Highway Commission from 1955 to 1968. He was a leader in the development of the Interstate Highway System in Kansas. Johnson earned his reputation as a national authority during his tenure as engineer for the state’s secondary roads. He served as president of the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers and National Society of Professional Engineers.

For 100 years, ARTBA has exclusively represented the U.S. transportation construction industry in the Nation’s Capital. The association has played a key leadership role in the development and passage of every major piece of federal transportation legislation enacted by Congress over the past century.

The transportation construction industry the award-winning ARTBA represents generates $200 billion in U.S. economic activity annually and sustains the employment of 2.2 million Americans. Additional information about the association can be found online at www.artba.org.

This page last updated 03/14/02