From the Business Perspective Newsletter
Express Toll Lanes are best option
After its founding in 1967 the Chamber Board identified securing an interchange at I435 and Quivira as critical to serve the growth that was to come. Once accomplished, in the 1980’s the Chamber tackled the addition of an interchange at I-435 and Antioch to serve the many homes and businesses in that area, including Corporate Woods. Two decades, and lots of community advocacy later, we celebrated the groundbreaking for this interchange in 2005.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine our community without these two key interchanges, but community improvements, and the funding for them, don’t just happen. They are a result of good partnerships and constant planning, strategizing, listening and advocacy to ensure the needs of the community are being met in a fiscally responsible way.
For many years, we’ve focused on the U.S.69 corridor. Together with our partners the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), the City of Overland Park and HNTB, we’ve traveled the journey of this corridor’s 50-year life. We’ve learned a few key things:
- S. 69 is vital to the businesses and residents in our region for safe travel of our workforce and delivery of goods
- The corridor is one of the state’s busiest highways with crash rates above the statewide average
- Crash frequencies of approximately one daily create congestion, increase fuel consumption and lost time
- Consistent with the region’s growth, traffic volumes are projected to double in some locations by 2050
- Travel times are projected to triple by 2040
- Pavement and bridges, at 50 years old, are at the end of their useful life.
Options to expand and modernize the corridor from 103rd south to 179th have been underway for several years. These improvements were identified as the metropolitan area’s most important priority during KDOT’s statewide local consult meetings in 2019. The option that has emerged as the best value to reduce congestion with fewer construction impacts and the lowest construction cost, lowest maintenance cost and smaller footprint with fewest impacts on homes, businesses and the environment is the Express Toll Lanes (ETL) option. For that reason, at its May meeting the Overland Park Chamber Board endorsed the ETL option as the preferred option for modernization and expansion of the U.S. 69 corridor, recognizing revenue from tolling provides the city’s local contribution for the project while providing the best value for both local and state-wide taxpayers.
Tolls get a bad rap. No one loves them, but those who take the time to understand the Express Toll Lane option come away with a new respect for this option. By law the existing lanes of U.S. 69 will remain forever FREE. You can choose to continue to use them free of charge, and never use the toll lanes. But, if you are ever in a hurry – late for work, an important meeting, school function or picking up your child from daycare – the Express Toll Lane is there with a faster, less congested option for you to choose whenever you need it.
I think that sounds like a great deal. If you’d like to learn more, check out www.69express.org, or contact us at the Chamber. We’re happy to talk with you about this project.
Continue Reading the June 2021 Newsletter
Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM
President & CEO