The project will be done in four phases and likley won't start until 2016.
Tuesday May 17, 2011
"It has to be fixed," said one driver about the interchange at Kellogg and I-235. You've probably thought the same thing to yourself merging onto either highway. "It's ridiculous, we're a growing city and it's built for a city of maybe 100,000 people," said driver Joel Borofsky.
There's no argument, Kellogg and I-235 is one of the worst interchanges in the area. However this is a debate over who should pay to fix it. "What project won't get done elsewhere because we're going to take on this city project," said Sedgwick County commissioner Karl Peterjohn.
The City of Wichita wants Sedgwick County to pay $11.6 million, the required local funding match to rebuild the interchanges. The project will cost $116 million and the state will pay a majority of the cost. "We're being asked to alter our responsibility to help the City of Wichita, when I think there are existing funds that could be used," said commissioner Richard Ranzau.
He's concerned the city is spending millions of dollars to build a bridge connecting 13th street to I-235, to relieve traffic congestion on Zoo Boulevard. Ranzau says no where in the regional transit plan does the 13th street bridge come into play. He says the I-235 and Kellogg interchange is number one priority for the region and that's where Wichita should be putting its money. Ranzau says if the city ran out of funds, then the county should consider becoming a financial partner in the project.
Wichita City Council member Jeff Longwell says the 13th street bridge may not be a regional issue, but it's a Wichita issue. "If anyone is saying that bridge isn't needed, they don't know what they're talking about," he said. Longwell says it's just as important as the Kellogg and I-235 project and since that involves two highways, the city wants help to fix it.
Longwell says over the last 20 plus years Wichita has spent millions improving Kellogg. He says it's only fair for the county to chip in for the interchange at I-235. "It's important to anyone who lives in the county or city, which they still represent," Longwell said.
During a county staff meeting Tuesday, commissioners discussed the issue. It became so heated between Richard Ranzau and Dave Unruh that Tim Norton who sat between them stormed out and asked for a cooling off period. "It looked like it was going to become uncivil, I don't think that's a good way to do business," Norton said. He says there are differences of opinion in whether the county should get involved, but he thinks they should. "I happen to believe we have a responsibility for major infrastructure in a reasonable manner," Norton said.
Driver's don't care who pays for it. "It needs to be done and it needs to be taken care of," said driver Mark Borofsky. That way getting on and off of the interchange is a little easier and a lot safer.