WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) — Changes may be on the horizon for one of Wichita’s main thoroughfares and could soon impact commuters. The changes will be from K-96 and the I-135 corridor extending east to Central and 127th Street East.
Approximately 50,000 vehicles in Wichita use K-96 daily. A recent study by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) shows that number could double within 25 years. For this reason, change is on the way.
KDOT public affairs manager Tom Hein said continued development in northeast Wichita requires changes on K-96.
“The capacity needs in the future are not there,” Hein said. “Also, there are many safety issues, especially at junctions. We can make improvements there.
Changes include adding an additional lane to eastbound and westbound traffic, creating the K-96/I-135 eastbound corridor to 21st Street, and improving interchanges along the route to improve driver safety .
Hein said the interchanges have become a problem with outbound traffic backing onto K-96, creating the potential for dangerous situations for drivers. Three interchanges will be rebuilt: at Woodlawn, Rock Road and Webb Road. During the heaviest traffic parts of the day, Hein said it’s not uncommon for ramps to backtrack onto K-96.
“That leads to some safety issues where people get into fenders and worse,” he said.
Hein said KDOT also plans to eventually repair the interchange connecting K-96 and East Kellogg to improve safety. There was a history of crashes on that interchange.
“K-96 eastbound to US-54 eastbound was probably a problem from day one because it’s such a sharp curve and the traffic goes pretty fast,” Hein explained.
KDOT expects construction to begin in 2026. The meeting to unveil plans for the improvements is set for Thursday, February 2 from 5-7pm at WSU Tech near the Jabara Airport.