LENEXA, Kan. — Whenever Mike Elyachar heads to the office or home for the day, he is usually battling traffic.
His office, Big Bob's Flooring Outlet, is located just off of 75th Street and I-35. The highway narrows from four lanes in each direction down to three, at this stretch.
"Monday through Friday, it’s backed up for about half a mile," he said.
Relief is coming to drivers like Elyachar next year.
The Kansas Department of Transportation announced it will expand the highway, adding a lane to I-35 each way. Construction is expected to start in mid-March 2020, a year earlier than anticipated.
"The sooner we clean up the congestion and can move people through there more quickly, the better," Joe Waters, Johnson County assistant county manager, said.
Johnson County will help pay 10 percent of the road expansion's cost, which is estimated to total $16.5 million.
According to Waters, this is the first time Johnson County is helping the state fund such a project.
"Getting the funds has been difficult," Waters said. "When the opportunity arose, the state could not come up with a match for federal funds. The county stepped in with the funds from our cities and came up with the dollars to match it."
The county will use funds from its CARS program and make two payments over two years.
"Johnson County does continue to grow," Waters said. "We have traffic running in every direction. It’s not a bedroom community any longer and I expect that trend will continue."
KDOT estimates a total of 160,000 vehicles pass through the I-35 and 75th Street stretch daily. KDOT considers this part of the highway one of the "busiest" in the metro.