A 1992 rendering of a partial loop that would connect parts of southern Johnson County is shown on the left. State and county officials are again considering such a proposal as part of a five-county study. A proposed corridor for the road’s location is shown at right. Graphics courtesy of Johnson County

Danedri Thompson
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It’s an idea that refuses to die – a loop outside of Interstate 435 that would connect the southwestern part of Johnson County to Interstate 70.
At one time called the Southern Metro Connector, and most recently termed the 21st Century Parkway, previous plans have considered using 199th Street between Gardner and Edgerton as part of the package. Officials killed a plan to develop a 21st Century Parkway in southern Johnson County almost 20 years ago, but officials are again talking about a similar road to connect eastern and western Johnson County with other parts of the Kansas City metro area.
As part of a five county study, known as the Strategic Program Area Review, officials in Johnson, Wyandotte, Miami, Douglas and Leavenworth are considering a variety of infrastructure issues, including transportation and access. The study will be released sometime next year.
In the meantime, County Chair Ed Eilert and the Johnson County Commission are asking that a number of items be considered in the discussion about what is currently termed the “Outer Loop Freeway.”
“We believe an Outer Loop Freeway facility, particularly the north/south portion in western Johnson County, will be a key infrastructure component needed to support the future development of Johnson County,” Eilert wrote in a letter to Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King.
The corridor that contains the freeway, he wrote, should be located generally in Johnson County. An attached map shows a suggested corridor that runs from the BNSF Intermodal facility through or near Sunflower Ammunition Plant and connects to Interstate 70 near Tonganoxie.
In his letter, Eilert requests that the final report on infrastructure needs in the 5-county study consider a number of things including:
• The loop should be studied as a freeway-type facility;
• Future alignment considerations should include connecting I-70 to Kansas Highway 10 and I-35 and should support traffic needs of the intermodal and Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant developments;
• Future plans should also maximize the use of existing rights-of-way as much as practical;
• The plan should avoid adversely impacting existing areas of development in Spring Hill, Gardner, Edgerton and Stilwell and;
• Funding sources for an outer loop should include toll roads.
The letter also includes a map, pictured, that recommends an area in which freeway should be located in Johnson County.