WICHITA, Kan - The Wichita city council has unanimously approved the hiring of a consulting firm to help apply for federal money for an important highway project.
The city and Sedgwick County are working together on plans to improve the North Junction interchange, which connects I-135, K-96, I-235 and K-254. Wichita city engineer Gary Janzen said the interchange was built nearly 50 years ago and it can no longer safely or effectively handle current traffic demands, especially with increasing freight travel. Janzen said the interchange carries almost 100,000 vehicles a day,and future projections have counts of over 160,000 vehicles each day, including almost 16,000 trucks.
The city is looking to split the cost with Sedgwick County of hiring the firm Professional Engineering Consultants to prepare an application for the federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant. The grant could provide up to $25 million for the project.
Janzen told the council that it's hoped the interchange could also be included in the next state highway program. A state transportation task force will be working on a project list for a new highway bill. As it stands now, there is no state funding identified for right-of-way purchases, final design or construction.
The council voted to authorize city staff to apply for the BUILD grant. Sedgwick County commissioners are expected to take action later this month or in early July.