KDOT's Major Expansion Project Aims to Solve Wichita's Traffic Woes
The Kansas Department of Transportation recently began preparation work on a $260 million road improvement project designed to reduce traffic congestion on Kansas State Highway 96 in Wichita as well as reduce the number of car accidents in Kansas' largest city.
"This timely project will address deteriorating pavement conditions, congestion and safety issues on K-96, and within the K-96 ramp terminal-city street connection influence areas at interchanges," Kris Norton, KDOT project management consultancy coordinating engineer, said in an interview with Roads & Bridges.
Wichita's traffic congestion improvement project
This state-funded road improvement project will target the Wichita highway commonly known as K-96, between Interstate-135 and the turnpike. Traffic on this stretch of highway is expected to double by 2050. Currently, 50,000 vehicles a day use Kansas State Highway 96 in Wichita, according to Roads & Bridges.
The road improvement project "will expand K-96 from four to six lanes, replace pavement, reconfigure seven interchanges, and add safe connections for pedestrians and cyclists on over 9 miles of freeway," Roads & Bridges reported.
"When K-96 was originally built in the mid-1990s, no one could have foreseen the significant development and growth that would occur," Jake Borchers, vice president, and project manager for WSP, a Kansas engineering and consulting firm, said in an interview with Roads & Bridges. "These improvements are vital to support and encourage growth in Wichita and south-central Kansas."
How does traffic contribute to crashes?
Traffic congestion often contributes to various types of accidents due to several factors:
- Speeding: When drivers approach heavy traffic at high speeds, they may not have sufficient time to stop or maneuver to avoid collisions, resulting in accidents.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive drivers, particularly those who tailgate or engage in road rage, are more likely to cause rear-end accidents in stop-and-go traffic conditions.
- Distracted driving: Drivers not paying adequate attention to the road due to distractions such as texting or using mobile devices are prone to colliding with other vehicles in congested traffic.
- Fatigue: Fatigued drivers, especially commercial truck drivers, pose a significant risk on congested roadways as their reaction times may be impaired.
- Recklessness: Some drivers, frustrated by heavy traffic, may run red lights or disregard stop signs, leading to serious accidents.
Addressing traffic congestion through projects like the K-96 improvement initiative enhances traffic flow and reduces the incidence of accidents caused by these factors. Improved road infrastructure and additional lanes can help mitigate the risks associated with heavy traffic and improve overall road safety.
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