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KDOT unveils $1.1B in transportation projects

John Milburn, Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas transportation officials released a list Wednesday of more than 430 construction projects totaling $1.1 billion to be carried out in the next two budget years, including several that are already under way.

The list released Wednesday includes some major projects that were previously announced by the Kansas Department of Transportation. They include completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway in Douglas County; expansion of U.S. 54/Kellogg Avenue in Wichita; and improvements to the junction of Kansas 10 and Interstates 35 and 435 in Johnson County.

The projects are part of the state's 10-year program for improving highways, airports and public transportation.

Transportation Secretary Mike King said most of the projects were considered preservation work, aimed at protecting and maintaining the quality of more than 1,600 miles of roads. An additional 209 bridges and highway interchanges also are slated for replacement.

The agency said the projects cover the fiscal year that began July 1 and continue through June 30, 2015. King said the transportation expenditures were important to the state's economic recovery, adding that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback included implementing the entire 10-year program in his agenda when elected in 2010.

"They will create jobs during construction and will provide the infrastructure business needs to operate efficiently and to grow," King said.

Completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway will extend the highway from its junction with Interstate 70 northwest of Lawrence and continue along the south side of the city to a point east and tying in with Kansas 10. Bids for the project will be released in September 2013.

The state also plans to construct a new interchange on the existing South Lawrence Traffiway with Bob Billings Parkway to improve access to the city and the University of Kansas. The two projects total $167 million.

Legal battles over the highway's route near the Baker Wetlands were resolved earlier this year after environmental groups lost their challenge to the road's alignment.

Improvements in Johnson County are designed to ease congestion as Kansas 10 merges with two interstates. It is the most expensive expansion project announced with a price of $250 million. Bids will be released for the project in October 2013.

The $67 million construction on Kellogg Avenue in Wichita continues the expansion of the major thoroughfare east, part of ongoing efforts to relieve congestion and improve safety in the state's largest city.