Changes coming to Kansas Turnpike

Published: Apr. 27, 2016 at 12:27 PM CDT
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Changes are coming to how you use the Kansas Turnpike, at least in three locations along the interstate.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) says it's all designed to make your commute faster and safer. The changes will also automate more of the turnpike's tollbooths as more toll workers retire.

"The turnpike going through Kansas is actually better than in a lot of other states," said Kevin Nikes. He drives the turnpikes in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas several times a year. In general, he likes the Kansas Turnpike best, but says there is one area where it could be better.

"It would be nice if you had the drive-thru toll plazas where they just mail your bill to you," Nikes said.

The KTA says it's hearing that a lot.

"A lot of our Kansas residents are traveling in other states so they're seeing this type of tollway model elsewhere and they're coming back and they're asking why can't we do something like that in Kansas," said KTA spokesperson Rachel Bell.

You can see how the plan works in the animations the KTA provided to illustrate the changes, moving the electronic KTAG lanes to the middle of the highway and taking out the gates.

"The advantage is that you just.. you don't have to stop," Nike said.

On the outside will be the slow lanes which will still have a cash payment option. And there will be cameras rolling, just in case.

"So, if you don't have an electronic pass you either need to pay cash or you'll receive some sort of violation notice in the mail that you'll need to pay," Bell said. "It'll be kind of a hybrid model of what some of the other states are doing."

The changes will speed traffic up at three of the state's busiest tollgates, the south terminus at the Oklahoma state line, the East Topeka stop, and the east terminus at Kansas City. The work is set to start sometime next year.

The construction is expected to begin sometime in 2017 with the Kansas City terminus. It could last into 2019. They're still working out the exact schedule right now.

No word on when, or if, these changes will be expanded to other stops along the route later on.

The rise in turnpike fees this May will pay for these changes.

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