For years, Leavenworth city officials have advocated for improved road access to the Kansas City International Airport with possibly an expanded four-lane highway between the Centennial Bridge and I-29 in Missouri. And now they have a new approach — seeking an interstate highway designation.
City Manager Scott Miller said he and members of the Leavenworth City Commission returned with the idea after a recent trip to Washington, D.C. Miller and commissioners made the trip in order in order to discuss issues related to the city with various federal officials.
He said the interstate status idea was suggested during a meeting that included representatives of the Federal Highway Administration.
Miller said city officials are exploring the alternative. But he admitted that "it's not an easy path."
"We were told it is not simple," he said.
State officials recently announced plans for a Kansas Department of Transportation location study for a possible new Missouri River bridge in Leavenworth. But Miller doesn't anticipate any funding for the construction of a new bridge as part of the Kansas Transportation Works program until at least 2020.
"That's seven years away," Miller said.
That's because the state already has in place a 10-year T-Works program that was approved in 2010.
The interstate status idea provides another avenue for city officials to pursue to improve the route between Fort Leavenworth and I-29.
City officials have pointed to the military's usage of KCI as a reason for improving road access to the airport.
"Fort Leavenworth is a big user of KCI," City Commissioner Phil Urban said.
He was among the commissioners who traveled to Washington, D.C.
Leavenworth Mayor Larry Dedeke, who also made the trip to the nation's capital, said officers from all over the world fly into the airport on their way to Fort Leavenworth. And he believes Fort Leavenworth may grow in the near future.
Miller said an interstate status likely would require the endorsement of the governors of Kansas and Missouri.
Dedeke said city officials were told the highway would need to be connected at both ends to other interstates. He suggested the possibility of a link with I-70 that could loop around the west side of Leavenworth and go across a bridge to connect with I-29 in Missouri.
Miller suggested a planned railroad intermodal facility in Edgerton could benefit from what he described as an outer loop roadway that takes people across a Missouri River bridge at Leavenworth.