Overland Park Council votes in favor of 69 Highway express toll lane plan

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Overland Park City Council voted 10-2 late Monday night in favor of creating express toll lanes on U.S. 69 Highway.

The city will partner with the Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Turnpike Authority on the project.

The 69 Express project will create the first single lane toll road in Kansas. It calls for an extra lane of traffic in both directions of 69 Highway between West 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.

“Everyone that uses the highway today can continue to use it just as they always have. This is adding another choice by adding an express toll lane. It allows people to make that choice when it’s most important to them,” Lindsey Douglas, deputy secretary for KDOT, said.

The express lane project would be broken down into four phases and cost roughly $655 million to complete. The first phase would cost $300 million and cover construction from West 103rd to 151st Street. The second phase would extend the project to West 179th Street. 

The express lane project would also include renovations to bridges and crosswalks on the interchanges at Blue Valley Parkway and at Interstate 435. 

Drivers can expect to pay roughly 32 cents per mile. Douglas said traffic demands will drive how the price is set, and the price may be less outside of peak travel times.

“It would be all electronic tolling,” Douglas said. “So whether you had a transponder you use on the Kansas Turnpike or we can take a picture of your license plate, you would not slow down. You would maintain speed, and we would send you a bill in the mail or you would be billed through your K-TAG account.”

If all goes to plan, construction would start in 2025, with the new lanes of traffic opening in 2027. 

Overland Park council members heard from a handful of residents on the matter before voting Monday night; most of them were against the express toll lanes.

“This basically boils down to the city of Overland Park have its citizens pay the cost of a road project that is already funded with taxes and pay again to drive on it,” resident Tina Tremble said.

“If you are in a fixed income, you can’t pay the toll. You are going to have discrimination as to who can afford and who can’t. This is a bad, bad, bad precedence to set,” Johnson County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara said at Monday’s meeting.

But one resident did speak in favor of the plan Monday night, frustrated by the crowded highway.

“The fact is if you are sitting in your car, and you’ve got a 15-20 minute longer commute because of congestion you’re paying a tax already. You’re burning up more gas. You’re polluting the air. You’re doing a lot of things that shouldn’t be the case otherwise,” resident William Jones said.

Despite some pushback from residents, council members went forward with the 69 Express plan. Next, KDOT will advance the proposal to the Kansas Turnpike Authority Board for approval.

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