WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — On Tuesday, the Wichita City Council approved money to redesign several busy city streets. And one road that doesn’t get much use will be closed to any vehicles.
The City’s Capital Improvement Project includes six makeover projects. Gary Janzen, City of Wichita engineer, told the council members what to expect with the redesigns.
143rd Street East, Kellogg to Harry
The first project he presented was for 143rd Street East from Kellogg to Harry. It is currently a two-lane asphalt rural section with ditches for drainage and no pedestrian accessibility.
The most likely improvements would expand the street to a three-lane roadway with urban curbing and gutters and a sidewalk and multi-use path on either side. The project would also include improvements to the intersection at Harry.
Janzen said the northern part of the project could be affected by Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) plans to improve Kellogg from K-96 beyond 159th Street East.
“The design is expected to begin on that yet in 2023,” he said. “We would definitely need to coordinate these efforts with KDOT as the interchange improvements at 143rd would extend at least a quarter mile to the south.”
Janzen estimated the cost for design and project management at $385,000.
17th Street North, from I-135 to Hillside
Janzen said 17th Street North has already been redesigned from Broadway to Oliver, except for the section between I-135 and Hillside.
The redesign of that remaining section would most likely convert the existing four-lane roadway to three lanes with on-street bike lanes to match what has been done west and east of the area.
Janzen said this would connect Wichita State University to McAdams Park, the downtown area, and the Redbud Trail.
Wichita City Council Member Brandon Johnson asked if something can be done to make the bike lanes easier to differentiate between vehicle lanes because he still sees people driving cars in bike lanes.
Janzen said it is something the city engineers are working on.
“We’ve had that discussion, you know, especially in the downtown area where you get right turn lanes and people,” he said. “I’m not really sure myself if I’m supposed to stay out of the lane or not, so that’s something that’s ever-evolving for us, and we’ll continue to look at that.”
The design and project management budget for the 17th Street project is estimated at $300,000.
37th Street North, from Hydraulic to Hillside
Janzen said that 37th Street North, between Hydraulic and Hillside, is still a rural two-lane road, even though the rest of 37th Street has been improved from Broadway to Webb Road.
Improvements would most likely include expanding the street to three lanes and probably wider lanes because of the industrial nature of that area of town.
“37th and Hydraulic intersection is experiencing some challenges with additional traffic counts,” Janzen said. “So we would look … to see if traffic signals were warranted in that area.”
Janzen said the City would also have to consider what KDOT will do with K-96 to the south.
“KDOT has planned improvements to K-96 somewhere in the 2026 to 2028 range,” he said. “They’re working on the design now. And once that project’s under construction, the local roads are going to need to be able to handle the bulk of that traffic for some time.”
He said K-96 would remain open during KDOT’s changes, but the construction will still push some traffic to other areas. Janzen would like the 37th Street improvements to be finished to accommodate the extra traffic and growth in the area.
He estimates the design and project management costs at $495,000.
Broadway from Third to 13th Street
Another busy road set for improvements is North Broadway, between Third and 13th streets.
“We plan to continue a corridor analysis for pedestrian safety,” Janzen said. “Our goal here, first and foremost, is to look at the lane configurations, look at multi-modal accommodations, including for pedestrian, bike and transit.”
He said the City would consider how Broadway from 13th to 21st streets is doing after recently being converted to three lanes with on-street bike lanes.
“Also, with the downtown streets plan evolving, which will be in front of the Council for consideration at some point in the near future, we will need to collaborate with that plan as the goal would be again to look between 13th street and just south of Central and so we need to make sure that everything’s working together between those two plans,” Janzen said.
He said the City would probably have to do more public outreach before deciding what should be done on this stretch of Broadway.
The estimated cost for design and project management is $150,000.
Mt. Vernon, from Southeast Boulevard to Oliver
According to Janzen, the stretch of Mt. Vernon between Southeast Boulevard and Oliver is the only unimproved section of the road between the river and Woodlawn.
“Both sides of this section of Mt. Vernon are also three-lane roadway with on-street bike lanes,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of use in this area and heard from a lot of people in the neighborhoods excited about getting this done to finish this gap within this Mt. Vernon improvements.”
Janzen estimated the cost for design and project management at $360,000.
15th Street bridge over the canal
The final project involves turning a road into a pedestrian bridge. Janzen said the 15th Street bridge over the Wichita drainage canal at McAdams Park has been under consideration for a while.
“In the past years, we looked at replacing this bridge due to deteriorating condition,” he said. “We have restricted traffic loads on this bridge.”
The City also made some repairs to keep it open to pedestrians.
“But based on the limited traffic counts, we had made a previous recommendation to convert this to a pedestrian bridge,” Janzen said. “That would be our plan going forward.”
The design and project management for this project is estimated at $400,000.
Total cost and vote
Janzen said that collectively, these six projects add up to just under $2.1 million in local sales tax and general obligation funding with the CIP.
“All of these projects, as we would typically do, would come back to the City Council for consideration of the final design concept before moving forward with the final design and then ultimately to construction,” he said.
The Council unanimously approved the resolution.