The expansion of U.S. 54 from two-lanes to four is on hold until funding becomes available.
Anyone who drives through Wichita knows that Kellogg (U.S. 54) is under construction at various locations. Many drivers in the Pratt area and that drive U.S. 54 are wondering when more two-lane miles will be put under construction to become four-lane miles and make the drive to Wichita even faster.
The short answer is nothing is planned for now and most likely nothing will be even considered until 2020. Scott Mullen, area engineer for Kansas Department of Transportation, said 2020 is a place holder for cost estimation of three projects that will add more four-lane miles to the highway.
The current T-Works bill, that got several miles of four-lane added to U.S. 54 will expire in 2020. Then a new Legislative bill will be passed with a different name and work will begin on deciding what projects will be done next.
Some highway projects in Kansas have been delayed because of budget difficulties. These projects have to be worked through before the two-lane expansion can continue.
Right now, three expansion projects on 54 have been designed and the land purchased. They are a bypass around Kingman, a bypass around Pratt and a freeway through Greensburg.
The Kingman bypass would connect to the four-lane on the east side of town then to go north of town and north of the airport then swing south and connect with the four-lane on the west side of town.
The Pratt bypass is also designed to go north of town after connecting with the existing four-lane section at about 45th Avenue. The bypass would have an interchange on both K-61 and U.S. 281 about halfway between 10th Street and 20th Street then reconnect with an interchange at west 40th Avenue that connects with old 54 and some county roads.
A freeway is also designed for Greensburg that starts about a mile west of Highway 183 then goes through Greensburg north of the existing highway, have a diamond interchange east of town and tie back into the existing highway.
No decision has been made on which project would be completed first if funds become available. When that decision is made, there will be a local consultant and public involvement to talk about the issues and what the public wants to see, Mullen said.
The decision is not based on which project is the least expensive. If the most expensive project would solve problems, it might be chosen for the next construction.
All of these issues are considered when deciding what project should be next.
"We listen to the public. Do they want the bypass," Mullen said. "We try to listen to those things also."
Most of the money for KDOT projects comes from federal funding with KDOT matching a portion of the funding, usually an 80-20 percent match.
While no expansion projects are on the books for 54, a major project is planned in Stafford County for 2019. Letting for a roundabout at U.S. 281 and U.S. 50 is tentatively set for late fall of 2018 with construction set for 2019. Federal funds will pay for most of that project with gas tax money providing the bulk of the money.
A mill overlay on U.S. 50 east of U.S. 281 is planned for summer 2018 in Stafford County.
In Kiowa County, Some bridge projects including upgrading guard fences and approaches west of U.S. 183 towards Mullinville is also scheduled for summer 2018.