A $90 million construction project to fund a new bridge between Leavenworth, Kan. and Platte County could be paid for with tolls.
Officials with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) held the third and final set of open houses for the Route 92 Centennial Bridge study last week — one in Platte City and another in Leavenworth. About 25 people showed up to Platte County Community Center North on Tuesday, Feb. 23 to hear the final update before an official recommendation is submitted late this year.
KDOT recently completed the advanced preliminary engineering study to give more concrete numbers to the project. The planned price tag comes in at $90 million to replace the “functionally obsolete” span of the Missouri River at Leavenworth.
One of the biggest questions moving forward continues to be where the money will come from.
One method of proposed revenue would be to make the new structure a toll bridge, which is possible since the roadway traverses states. Tolling is used in Kansas but not legal in Missouri.
Officials on hand explained that there isn’t a concrete number on how much a potential toll will cost at this point but it will likely fall between $1.50 and $2.00 per trip across the bridge for KTAG holders with passenger vehicles. There will be a higher cost for those without KTAG due to higher processing costs.
Semis and other larger vehicles would face a higher toll.
For those without a KTAG transponder, the toll would be captured from a system that reads license plates and would later be sent a bill for the crossing. Similar tolling systems are already in place in several states.
The final tolling number will be arrived at when the project proceeds further and officials can conduct a level 3 tolling and revenue study to create an investment grade analysis necessary to obtain tolling authority. The toll would eventually be retired when the bonds issued to pay for the bridge were repaid.
Centennial Bridge opened as a toll bridge in 1955 and remained that way until 1977 when the debts were paid off.
If the final recommendation is approved by the Kansas Legislature; the environmental studies should kick off in 2017 with construction planned for the second half of 2020. The new bridge could be opened by 2022.
Officials also presented the initial design of the new setup.
The new span would be about 20 feet shorter than the current 2,437-foot structure and would be about 10 feet further north. In addition to the new bridge a new interchange at the intersection of Highway 92 and Highway 45 spur would be constructed. The new interchange comprises about $15 million of the final price tag and could not be covered by any potential toll due to Missouri state statute.
An earlier part of the study concluded that about 14,000 cars use the bridge each day and 91 percent of traffic that uses Centennial Bridge has a terminus — either begins or ends — in Leavenworth. The structure is extremely important for traffic from Missouri to Fort Leavenworth, a major military installation located along the Missouri River.