New report highlights crash- and congestion-prone stretch of U.S. 69 in Overland Park

69 highway toll lanes

The report highlighted the dangers of U.S. 69, including three different locations within a 4-mile stretch of the highway in Overland Park whose crash volume peaks higher than one crash per day. File photo.

A stretch of U.S. 69 through Overland Park is one of the most congested in Kansas and in need of solutions.

That’s according to findings from a newly-released report from the office of U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, who highlighted the dangers of this four-mile stretch of road as part of her examination of transportation safety issues the congressional district.

Background: Overland Parkers and motorists passing through the area are already familiar with the dangers and congestion along U.S. 69. According to the safety report, U.S. 69 is one of the most congested roads in the state, with traffic volume projected to double by 2045.

  • The Kansas Department of Transportation lists U.S. 69 as the state’s busiest four-lane road with an estimated 80,000 vehicles passing through the corridor daily.
  • KDOT communications director Steve Hale said the corridor, which stretches from 103rd Street to 179th Street, experiences crash rates 53% above the statewide average due to its heavy traffic.

Location: Three different locations within a 4-mile stretch of the highway in Overland Park were identified by the report to have a crash frequency of approximately one crash every day.

  • Interstate 435 to College Boulevard: This stretch has the highest crash frequency due to weaving conditions and congestion during the afternoon peak hours;
  • Blue Valley Parkway to West 135th Street: Due to the bottleneck in the morning heading northbound; and
  • College Boulevard to West 119th Street: Due to afternoon bottlenecks in both directions.

Local efforts: To help reduce traffic and fix safety concerns along the highway, Overland Park has been working with state entities to construct toll lanes along a busy stretch of U.S. 69 within city limits.

  • The project will involve adding a new, tolled lane in each direction from 151st to 103rd streets, replacement of 50-year old pavement, 11 noise walls and improving interchanges at 167th Street, Blue Valley Parkway and I-435.
  •  Overland Park is expected to contribute $20 million to the project’s overall cost, estimated to be about $300 million, with the city’s share set to be paid back through revenue generated by the tolls.
  • Construction on the project is set to begin in September of this year, with an estimated completion date by the end of 2025, Hale said.

Key quote: “Those toll lanes are intended to ease congestion,” Hale said. “And by doing so, they will ease bottlenecks and the opportunity for crashes to happen. It is a safety feature as well as a convenience feature.”

Legislation: In addition to local efforts, Davids’ report also highlighted pieces of legislation she says will improve the Third District’s infrastructure, support traffic enforcement and reduce crashes.

  • This includes the American Rescue Plan, which, in part, allocated $117 million to Johnson County that can be used for roads or other infrastructure.
  • Also discussed in the report is the bipartisan infrastructure law, which allocates nearly $16 billion over 5 years to the Highway Safety Improvement Program to provide funding to KDOT to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
  • “One Kansan loses their life every 20 hours to a motor vehicle accident,” Davids said. “These deaths are preventable with the right policy approach. The bipartisan infrastructure law invests in safer streets, safer sidewalks and stronger enforcement to reverse this trend and save lives.”