“The reconfiguration of the Turner Diagonal Interchange near I-70 East and West lanes, will make it possible for 65,000 travelers to have a safer and less congested roads to jobs, education and other opportunities,» said Sean Poole, USDOT Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.



BY DEBRA DeCOSTER
The Turner Diagonal interchange next to I-70 in Kansas City, Kansas no longer meets the needs of the community and the surrounding area. The Unified Government partnered with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) and North Point Development to came up with a plan to improve the interchange.

The existing interchange will be reconfigured to a diverging diamond interchange, which organizers say it should create more space for economic development and job creation. The reconfiguration will allow up to 300 acres of land for economic development and job creation.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in late January to announce the start of the new project.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly attended the kickoff celebration.

“Today is a great day for Kansas. Today we are here to showcase what we can accomplish when we work hard and when we work together. The new Turner Diagonal interchange will make travel safer, will open up economic development opportunities, and modernize our infrastructure to allow us to be more competitive in the new decade and beyond. Once the Unified Government recognized the potential for this area, they partnered with the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Turnpike Authority and North Point Development to develop a vision and a plan. The Turner Diagonal Project was awarded a federal BUILD grant (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage development) for $13 million, which makes up 46 percent of the project funding. The remainder of the project will be funded by the Unified Government, KDOT and North Point Development,” said Governor Kelly.

She added, “This project is a great example of how a thoughtful partnership can make dollars available for infrastructure stretch even further.” The Turner Diagonal Interchange services 65,000 vehicles per day. According to Governor Kelly, the renovation to the interchange will be finished by November 2020.

U.S. Congress woman, Sharice Davids, was excited about the upcoming improvements that will be coming to the interchange in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I am excited to be a partner in this project at the federal level. The Turner Diagonal interchange sits at an important place in our infrastructure when we are talking about getting goods places whether it is on the highways or by rail,” she said.

Kansas City, Kansas Mayor David Alvey spoke to the crowd about the improvements to the Turner Diagonal.

“The partnership between the local, the federal and the state levels and the private investment coming in to make this project happen is truly remarkable and it is a model for how we need to continue to move forward. I remember when this inter-change was a toll station. It was an improvement when that was dropped, because we had paid off the debt of the turnpike. That was an improvement, but this now takes us to the next level and really satisfies our needs to 2040 and beyond,” stated Mayor Alvey.

Newly elected Commissioner Christian Ramirez, District 3, attended the groundbreaking ceremony along with Commissioner at-Large Tom Burroughs, District 2 Commissioner at-Large Melissa Bynum, District 1 Commissioner Dr. Jane Philbrook, District 8 and Commissioner Mike Kane, District 5.

“I feel this will improve the safety of this interchange. I have heard many people talk about the safety here. It is a dangerous stretch, with many cars going different ways, now it will be a central way, a more cohesive way for the traffic coming through our county. The improvement will bring in more business,” he said.

Sean Poole, USDOT Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, praised the innovative changes to the diagonal.

“We know that part of the goal of improving transportation infrastructure is providing safer travels, improve quality of life and provide an increase to equal opportunities. The I-70 Turner Diagonal interchange does all of that. It is an example for the rest of the nation. The stronger our road system is, the stronger our economy becomes because goods can get to markets easier and workers can get to and from jobs more safely. The reconfiguration of this interchange will make it possible for 65,000 travelers to have safer and less congested roads to jobs, education and other opportunities,” said Poole.

The Turner Diagonal Project will also include improvements to the truck staging area west of 72nd Street and a new dedicated pedestrian pathway will also be included in the improvements.

The project cost is $30 million. $13.8 million of the project cost will come from a BUILD Grant that the UG received in 2018. The remaining cost will be covered by a combination of UG, KDOT, and Northpoint Development funding. The project is scheduled to begin this month.