OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — People living along U.S Highway 69 will soon get to vote on adding a new element to the U.S. 69 Toll Lane Project.
Next month, property owners will start receiving ballots to weigh in on adding roughly $30 million to the project to cover the cost of constructing new noise reduction walls along the corridor.
Starting in January, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) will host a series of neighborhood meetings with property owners and tenants in areas where noise reducing walls are being recommended.
“The way we are looking at noise walls is it’s a required addition to the scope of the project. If we add noise walls, this project would go from now about a $330 million project to $360 million if that noise wall estimate holds true,” KDOT Deputy Secretary KDOT Lindsey Douglas said.
Cameron McGown, project manager for HNTB, said that adding the walls could help reduce noise along the highway by 5-7 decibels (dB).
A full noise analysis for the U.S. 69 Toll Lane Project is currently under review by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and will be published as part of the larger environmental impact study. McGown anticipates the full environmental impact document will be released by the end of the month.
McGown said that report shows 23 noise sensitive areas throughout the project and recommends 14 noise walls be installed in various locations along the highway.
If approved, 11 of the noise walls would be constructed as part of the first phase of the project with the remaining four built in later phases.
The first 11 walls would be constructed between 135th Street and 151st Street, Blue Valley Parkway and 135th Street, and along the 119th street interchange. During the neighborhood meetings KDOT will provide more information on the exact location and height of the proposed walls.
“With this near term project, if all 11 walls ultimately moved forward into construction, we do anticipate this would add about $30 million to the project budget,” McGown said.
Last month, the Overland Park City Council approved expanding its agreement with the state to include the reconstruction of the 167th Street interchange. That additional work increased the city’s contribution from $20 million to $30 million in net toll revenues.
Douglas said the additional noise walls would be paid for through the State Highway Fund and won’t require an increased contribution from the city of Overland Park.
“With the addition of the noise walls, unless there is some increased cost above the baseline noise wall that they [the city] want to see, we do not anticipate going back to the city and asking for any increase in that local contribution,” Douglas said.
Ahead of the neighborhood meetings, property owners will be mailed information on the noise study and a ballot to cast their vote on the construction of the walls. If 70% of property owners are in favor of the noise walls, the construction of the walls will be included in the first phase of the project.
Only people living near the proposed project site will be able to vote on the noise wall project. Anyone can submit questions or comments to KDOT through the 69 Express website.
Douglas said construction on the toll lane project is expected to begin by mid-2022 with the new toll lanes open for use by 2025.