Overland Park council members speak out on express toll lane plan for crowded 69 Highway

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Overland Park city leaders and residents packed into City Hall on Monday night to discuss the new express toll lanes proposal for U.S. 69 Highway.

The meeting garnered a lot of debate and uncertainty and took several hours.

The project would widen the roadway to add an extra lane of traffic along 69 Highway between 103rd and 179th streets. Once complete, the new, far-left lane would become an express toll lane, and the original right two lanes would remain open for drivers to use — free of charge.

The cost to use that express toll lane is expected to vary based on demand and how long you drive in the lane, ranging anywhere from 30 cents to $1.75.

“No one is thrilled to pay extra, but the majority of people think this will help the congestion over time,” said Lindsey Douglas, deputy secretary for the Kansas Department of Transportation. “They see it could be a really good solution for Overland Park.”

KDOT said value and ease are just some of the reasons the express toll lanes would be a positive change.

But Overland Park council members said many of their constituents are concerned about whether the lanes would be a good fit.

“No matter which direction we go, I do believe the public should be involved in the process,”  Councilman Chris Newlin said.

Some city leaders said many factors, including noise, may impact the quality of life for Overland Park residents.

“If I am going to vote on this, there’s assurances that need to be there if I’m going to put a toll on the backs of Overland Park,” Councilman Faris Farassati said.

But KDOT said the benefits of the toll lanes outweigh the potential risks, and it’s an extra step toward getting closer to a more efficient highway.

“You don’t have to take the toll lane,” Douglas said. “It will always be your choice.”

The council will make their final decision June 21. The project is set to be completed by 2025 if implemented by the city.

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