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Bridge connecting 13th Street to I-235 approved in west Wichita

January 12, 2011|By Kim Hynes & Rebecca Gannon | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
  • An Eyewitness News crew sits about where the 13th street Bridge would stand over 235. Federal dollars would build it, and construction is expected to begin this year.
Cell phone photo by Rebecca Gannon

(WICHITA, Kan.) — It will soon be easier to get around in west Wichita. The Federal Highway Authority approved building a bridge connecting West 13th Street to
I-235. Council member Jeff Longwell who represents the west side of town says this is the best news he's heard in a long time.

Longwell says the next step is to finalize the engineering plans and to buy right of way. The bridge will eventually add exits onto I-235. He says not only will it give drivers more options but it will also alleviate traffic problems at Zoo Boulevard. He says it could cut driving time down by 10-15 minutes during rush hour. The city has been working on a bridge like this since 2001.

At Cheer Eclipse at 13th and Ridge, the mothers of the tumbling girls say they are excited for an easier way to get to this gym.

Most of them drive here four days a week -- and battle traffic to do it.  "I used to circle off, and take 235 to Zoo," explained Tiffany Thalen.  "But the traffic was so backed up you were on the shoulder.  So now I take Central -- and it still backs up."  It takes her 25 minutes to get from her home on the east side of Wichita to the gym.

     
Brenda Larson drives up from Derby and takes the Zoo Boulevard exit.  "Sometimes I actually get stuck on 235, on the side of the road, in traffic, waiting to get on there, because of the light."  Larson says it's a 30 minute drive; but traffic makes it 45 minutes.

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Construction on the bridge should begin sometime this year. It's estimated to cost $50 million. Longwell says they plan to use the tax money set aside for Kellogg improvements to help finance the project. Once construction begins, it will take about 12-18 months.

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