County and city leaders push for upgrade to Wichita’s North Junction

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita and Sedgwick County leaders are ramping up plans for a major change at I-135 & I-235.

“I-135, I-235 and K-254 were built in the mid 60’s to early 70’s. K-96 was built in the early 1990’s,” explains Sedgwick County engineer, David Spears.

Spears spoke in a new YouTube video put out by the county. It proclaims the junction as a bottleneck that is dangerous and outdated.

The junction handles about 93,000 vehicles a day. KSN asked county leaders about the project.

“Huge number of vehicle traffic and on average we have about four accidents a week. Many of those are injury accidents and we’ve had, really in my opinion, excessive fatalities at that interchange, so this is really a high priority,” says Sedgwick County Commissioner, Jim Howell. “My district is south, but even people down south recognize the importance of this regionally significant problem. Every week day there is clogged-up traffic and people get frustrated. There’s actually transportation companies that avoid Wichita to avoid that interchange. It’s incredibly important, and we need to get it fixed.”

Howell explains that city and county leaders both went to Topeka recently to explain the importance of the project.

“I am concerned about the funding side of this project that is so, so needed,” says Howell. “I believe the county and city would each have to provide at least $15 million if we would do all four phases of an improvement plan for the North Wichita interchange. But we also need to advocate to the federal government to help.”

If approved, funding for all of the project would be around $400 million. The first phase of the project is set to begin next year with the addition of some lanes to alleviate congestion on I-235.


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