Traffic continues to increase near 191st and S Gardner Rd near I-35. Despite being marked a no truck route, trucks continue to access the road to utilize the intermodal. Staff photo by Rick Poppitz

Congestion and increased truck traffic, has caused many residents to complain about the intersection at I-35 and Gardner Rd.
Originally constructed in 1959 when Gardner’s population was about 1600, today, Gardner’s population teeters at 20,000 and the Edgerton intermodal’s growth has brought traffic at that interchange to about 500 exiting I-35 per day.
When shifts change at the intermodal businesses, cars often stack up as they stop and proceed onto I-35.
“We would encourage drivers traveling to the intermodal and logistics park to utilize the Homestead Interchange which was designed and constructed to handle the traffic,” said Michael Kramer, Gardner public works director.
The Gardner Police Department has also fielded complaints regarding traffic in that area. Jim Pruetting, Gardner Police Chief, said more than 1,200 traffic stops have been done in that area this year.
“Not every stop results in a ticket, but a large majority of them do,” Pruetting said. “We have not seen an increase in traffic accidents in that area, so drivers are clearly doing a very good job of driving through the area in a defensive, cautious manner.”
As holidays approached, Pruetting said increased caution will be needed. “An increased level of caution will continue to be needed as we approach the holiday season and an increase in seasonal workers will adversely affect the traffic flow in that area.”
In October, Kramer reviewed several options to improve the intersection, including closing 183rd and 191st, which was opposed by property and business owners in that area, as well as the fire department and Gardner Police Department. In conclusion, Kramer said that consensus was that 183rd and 191st should both remain open; 191st should be open to truck traffic – after improvements; to continue to encourage drivers use the Homestead exit; and to discuss the idea of staggering shifts with industrial park businesses.
According to Kramer, improving the intersection has several unique challenges, including:

From Jan. 1, 2017 till Nov. 3, 2017 the Gardner Police made 577 traffic stops in the shaded area.  The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department made an additional 692 traffic stops in that same time frame and area. Photo courtesy of GPD

• 191st Street Intersections being very close to the ramps both North and South of the interchange.
• Peak traffic generated by the intermodal and Logistics Park.
• Lack of funding for the bridge replacement and 191st street improvements.
• Lack of additional right-of-way.
• Lack of pedestrian access.
• Continued rapid growth of traffic impacting the level of service.
• Schools and businesses located in close proximity to the interchange construction.
“Preliminary and final design phases are expected to last into 2019, with construction bidding in 2019,” said Kramer.
During the final phase:
•  Gardner, working with its consultant, will review various alternative concepts for the interchange configuration.
• Project will seek to engage the Gardner citizens and businesses through public meetings and outreach to understand and consider their needs and concerns.
•  Further traffic analysis and computer modeling of selected alternatives will be performed to ensure the selected alternative meets current and future traffic needs.
Although the city will receive funding from KDOT and MARC for the I-35 and Gardner Road and 191st Street interchange project, the city’s estimated share of approximately $2.868 million, plus estimated costs of issuance which is “not to exceed $3,040,000 and will be financed by General Obligation Bonds.
Although the city will receive up to $2.437 million in grants from the Johnson County Storm water Management and Johnson County CARS programs, the city’s share of approximately $1.59 million will be financed by General obligation bonds.