Looking ahead is a key element to meet the area’s transportation needs. That was the major takeaway from a briefing by Dan Squires, Derby’s director of planning and engineering, during a recent presentation before the WAMPO Transportation Policy Body on the ARC 95, or 95th Street Corridor.
“This is about planning for the future before some of those transportation challenges arise,” Squires said to the crowd of 35, which included several other Derby officials.
Successful planning requires vision, and the region needs to look ahead for its collective future needs, he said.
As envisioned, the plan would provide a clear-line, east-west route in south Sedgwick County, one that doesn’t currently exist, along with both a new Arkansas River crossing and a grade-separated crossing of the BNSF Railroad line.
The focus is on 95th Street between Woodlawn Boulevard and Broadway, or U.S. 81.
The plan has been revealed for several years now, and received public input during a series of area meetings, including several well-attended ones in Derby.
Four options for crossing the river and railroad were evaluated. The design recommendations were a grade-separated option over the highway and K-15, two-and three-lane improvements with the ability to expand to five lanes, and phased construction.
The point of going to this meeting was to make the ARC 95 project part of the list of regional priorities in the long-range transportation plan the group is developing.
WAMPO, or the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, is the metropolitan planning organization for the Wichita region.
MPOs are federally required regional policy bodies in urbanized areas with populations of more than 50,000.
Locally, the group is responsible for carrying out the metropolitan transportation planning process in three counties and 22 cities in south central Kansas.
Squires was asked to make the presentation because of his familiarity with the project.
And, being from Derby, he represents the largest city outside of Wichita that would be affected. Other communities involved in the plan include Clearwater, Haysville, Mulvane and Rose Hill.
“There’s no funding now, but to be eligible for federal funding, you have to make it into the long-range transportation plan,” he said. “If you don’t get into the plan, that limits some of the funding mechanism.”
As presented, project costs are broken into three phases:
Phase 1: $62 million, which would include work from Woodlawn to Hillside. That includes $49 million for construction, $12.3 for design and $700,000 for right of ways.
Phase 2: $24 million, which includes a Kansas Turnpike Authority interchange.
Phase 3: $8 million, which would include work from Hydraulic to Hillside.
A vast part of the expenses would be in building a bridge and working on the railroad crossing.
“Bridges are expensive,” Squires said.
One of the positives of the plan is that it has the support of the railroad.
“That’s not always the case,” he said.
Another would be easing traffic at 47th and K-15, he said. Currently, traffic making a left turn onto 47th backs up and this would ease that problem.
Along with improved traffic flow, there would be enhanced safety and emergency response and more economic development, Squires said.
Also attending were three City Council members – Vaughn Nun, Nicholas Engle and Jack Hezlep, who also sits on the board, along with Planning Commission member Larry Gould and City Manager Kathy Sexton.