Interstate 135 Kansas

Interstate 135 Kansas
History
North End
South End

Overview

Interstate 135 overlays U.S. 81 from the Kansas Turnpike (I-35) and Wichita in south central Kansas to Salina and I-70. It is the fourth longest three-digit route within the Eisenhower Interstate System, following I-476 in Pennsylvania, I-495 in Massachusetts and I-287 around metro New York.

The freeway bisects Wichita mostly along the elevated Canal Route, a seven mile stretch paralleling or running above the culverted Chisholm Creek Canal. Accommodating six overall lanes, 95,700 vehicles per day (vpd) were recorded along a stretch north of U.S. 54/400 (Kellogg Avenue) and to the east of Downtown Wichita in 2015.

I-135 Canal Route - Wichita, KS
Interstate 135, U.S. 81 and K-15 along the Canal Route through Wichita. The flood control basin and drainage ditch network feeds into the canal running between the north and southbound roadways of the freeway. 10/31/16

Remaining suburban through Park City and Valley Center, Interstate 135, U.S. 81/K-15 leave the Wichita metropolitan area for a rural course to Newton and a brief overlap with U.S. 50. K-15 splits to the north from there as I-135 shifts northwest to McPherson and the north end of the K-61 expressway connecting with Hutchinson.

Turning northward again, Interstate 135/U.S. 81 continue by Lindsborg to Salina. The freeway generally bypasses the city of nearly 50,000 to a rural cloverleaf interchange with I-70/U.S. 40. I-135 ends there, with U.S. 81 extending north as a freeway then expressway to Concordia.

High Priority Corridor

I-135 in its entirety, along with the route served by U.S. 81 and U.S. 77 north to Sioux City, Iowa, is part of High Priority Corridor 23: Interstate Route 35 Corridor.

History

I-135 was originally designated as Interstate 35W, representing a main route north from I-35 as it turned northeast from Wichita along the Kansas Turnpike to Emporia. The first section of the freeway was under construction around McPherson in 1968, with work on most of the remaining freeway getting underway by the early 1970s.1

The Canal Route section of I-135 through Wichita cost $32 million, with work there starting in 1971. This segment included the most expensive portion of the original Kansas Interstate system built at the time, the 2.2-mile long viaducts between Kellogg Avenue and 21st Street N. The northbound bridge is 12,111 feet long while the southbound span totals 12,497 feet.2 Technical issues extended work on the Canal Route to a December 1979 completion date.1

Route Information

  • North End – Salina, KS

  • South End – Wichita, KS

  • Mileage – 95.74

  • Cities – Wichita, Newton, McPherson, Salina

  • JunctionsI-35 Kansas Tpk I-235 I-70

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

Central Kansas - 1965 Map
Interstate 35W utilized the preexisting Newton bypass and was complete in the Salina vicinity by 1965. The Newton bypass was constructed in the 1950s initially as a connector from U.S. 81 on Kansas Avenue to U.S. 50 at the wye interchange (Exit 33) with I-135.
Salina, KS - 1967
The north end of Interstate 135 consisted of a trumpet interchange with I-70 until construction of the U.S. 81 freeway to Minneapolis – 1967 Kansas Official Highway Map
Wichita, KS - 1977
The Canal Route in Wichita was the last section of Interstate 135 opened to traffic – 1977 Kansas Official Highway Map

As approved by AASHTO on July 13, 1976, I-35W was renumbered as Interstate 135 on September 13, 1976. There are two remaining I-35W’s nationally, one at Fort Worth, Texas and the other through Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, a $16.1 million project reconfigured the full cloverleaf interchange joining Interstate 135 with 47th Street (U.S. 81 to the west) in south Wichita. The two-year project was unveiled on August 28, 2009 with construction commencing on September 8, 2009. It coincided with development of the South Fork retail and hotel complex at the southwest corner of the exchange. Project aspects included the rebuilding of four bridges for 47th Street S, over both I-135 and adjacent Big Slough Creek, and the removal of three ramps with the installation of three signalized intersections.3

A new diamond interchange was constructed along Interstate 135 /U.S. 81 at Mohawk Road to the north of McPherson. Serving an industrial park and provide additional access to the north side of McPherson, the $7.018 million project linked separate segments of Mohawk Road . The bid for the project was let on October 21, 2015. Scheduled work ran through May 26, 2017,4 and a ribbon cutting ceremony took place for the new ramps on April 4, 2017.6

North End I-70 US 40 US 81 – Salina, Kansas

I-135 US 81 north at I-70 US 40

I-135/US 81 north at I-70/US 40 - Salina, KS

I-135/U.S. 81 advance north from the diamond interchange with K-140 west and State Street east 2.25 miles to Interstate 70/U.S. 40 in rural Elm Creek township. 11/01/16

I-135/US 81 north at I-70/US 40 - Salina, KS

A nearly transcontinental route, Interstate 70 meets I-135 at a cloverleaf interchange (Exits 95A/B). I-70 connects Denver with Kansas City across the width of Kansas. 11/01/16

I-135/US 81 north at I-70/US 40 - Salina, KS

Exit 95A departs in one half mile for I-70/U.S. 40 east to Abilene, Junction City and Manhattan. The two routes run concurrent to the East Topeka interchange of the Kansas Turnpike. 11/01/16

I-135/US 81 north at I-70/US 40 - Salina, KS

Travelers joining I-70/U.S. 40 east from I-135/U.S. 81 will reach I-470 and the capital city of Topeka in 105 miles. U.S. 81 continues north as a freeway for another 18 miles en route to Minneapolis and Concordia before entering Nebraska north of Belleville. 11/01/16

I-135/US 81 north at I-70/US 40 - Salina, KS

Exit 95B loops onto I-70/U.S. 40 west towards the city of Hays. Roughly 420 miles separate Salina with Denver, Colorado via Interstate 70. 11/01/16

US 81 south at I-70 I-135 US 40

US 81 south at I-70/135-US 40 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

U.S. 81 south makes a gradual curve from K-143 to cross the Saline River on the two mile approach to I-70/U.S. 40 and I-135. The city center of Salina is located 4.4 miles to the southeast of the forthcoming cloverleaf interchange. 11/01/16

US 81 south at I-70/135-US 40 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

Exit numbers appear for the U.S. 81 ramps to Interstate 70 west to Hayes and Colby and east to Manhattan and Topeka, on the one mile guide sign. 11/01/16

US 81 south at I-70/135-US 40 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

U.S. 81 spans Pleasant Hill Road south amid agricultural areas just ahead of Exit 95B for I-70/U.S. 40 west. The two routes overlap 174 miles westward to Exit 76 at Oakley. 11/01/16

US 81 south at I-70/135-US 40 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

Interstate 135 appears on the U.S. 81 pull through panel as Exit 95B parts ways for I-70/U.S. 40 west. U.S. 81 follows I-135 south for all but the southern link to the Kansas Turnpike in Wichita. 11/01/16

US 81 south at I-70/135-US 40 - 1986

Prior signs for I-135 at I-70 both acknowledged the U.S. 40 concurrency and used local control cities. Russell, situated at U.S. 281 (Exit 184), was referenced for Exit 95B for westbound, while Exit 95A directed traffic to adjacent Salina to the east. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1986).

US 81 south at I-70/135-US 40 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

Leading east from Salina, I-70/U.S. 40 travel to Topeka, where they split at the Oakland Expressway and Kansas Turnpike for separate routes to Bonner Springs and the Kansas City metropolitan area. K-140, two miles to the south, represents the old U.S. 40 alignment leading west to Ellsworth. 11/01/16

I-70 US 40 east at I-135 US 81

I-70/US 40 east at I-135/US 81 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

A half mile separates Halstead Road from forthcoming Exit 250A for Interstate 135/U.S. 81 south along the west side of Salina. Salina represents the largest collection of traveler services on I-70 east since Russell, 66 miles to the west. 11/01/16

I-70/US 40 east at I-135/US 81 - Elm Creek Twp, KS

Interstate 135/U.S. 81 run south through Salina with five interchanges servicing the Saline County seat. The northern suburbs of Wichita lie 75 miles to the south. 11/01/16

I-70 US 40 west at I-135 US 81

I-70/US 40 west at I-135/US 81 - Salina, KS

Interstate 70/ U.S. 40 progress west from the diamond interchange (Exit 252) with K-143 (old U.S. 81) to Exit 250A with I-135/U.S. 81 south to Wichita and Exit 250B for U.S. 81 north to Concordia. 11/01/16

I-70/US 40 west at I-135/US 81 - Salina, KS

U.S. 81 extends north from the end of I-135 as a freeway or expressway to Minneapolis, Concordia and Belleville. The route south combines with I-135 through Salina, Newton and Wichita. 11/01/16

I-70/US 40 west at I-135/US 81 - Salina, KS

Exit 250A loops away from I-70/U.S. 40 west for I-135/U.S. 81 south. The freeway splits with the K-61 expressway at McPherson to provide part of a high speed route to Hutchinson. 11/01/16

Throwback I-70 US 40 west at I-135 US 81

I-70/US 40 west at I-135/US 81 - 1982

A previous set of signs posted along I-70 west for the 1979-completed route of Interstate 135. Minneapolis was replaced by Concordia on subsequent sign replacements. Photo taken by Michael Summa (1982).

I-70/US 40 west at I-135/US 81 - 2002

Hays replaced Russell on the I-70 west pull through panel at Exit 250B. This panel was eventually dropped from sign plans. Photo taken by Dale Sanderson (10/02).

South End I-35 Kansas Tpk – Wichita, Kansas

I-135 US 81 south at I-35 Kansas Tpk

I-135/US 81 south at I-35/Kansas Tpk - Wichita

A three lane off-ramp departs from Interstate 135/U.S. 81 south just after the merge with I-235. U.S. 81 dog legs west from Exit 1A to rejoin Broadway south to Haysville via 47th Street S. 11/01/16

I-135/US 81 south at I-35/Kansas Tpk - Wichita

Traffic remaining along I-135 south defaults into the Kansas Turnpike toll plaza ahead of the trumpet interchange with Interstate 35 northeast to El Dorado and Emporia and south to Wellington and Ponca City, Oklahoma. An end sign for I-135 stands at the 47th Street S overpass. 11/01/16

Throwback – I-135 south at I-35 Kansas Tpk

I-135 south at US 81 - Wichita, KS - 2002

Prior to an ARRA funded redesign between 2009-11, I-135 and U.S. 81 south separated at a cloverleaf interchange (Exits 1B/A) with 47th Street. The 94 mile long overlap with U.S. 81 concludes at 47th Street S. U.S. 81 continues southward to Wellington, just west of the parallel Kansas Turnpike. The former alignment through Wichita followed Broadway. Photo taken by Ben Prusia (03/02).

I-135 south at I-35/Kansas Tpk - 2001

Exit 1A was originally the loop ramp taking traffic from the ending I-135 south onto 47th Street east toward McConnell Air Force Base. The base was the site of an F4 tornado that struck the area in April of 1991. Photo taken by Richie Kennedy (03/01).

I-35 Kansas Tpk north at I-135

I-35/Kansas Tpk north at I-135 - Wichita

Replaced by 2015, the one mile sign for Exit 42 and I-135 north appears at the 63rd Street S underpass along the Kansas Turnpike north. U.S. 81 accompanies I-135 from 47th Street S nearby, while I-235 forks west from the freeway to Eisenhower International Airport (ICT). 10/20/03

I-35/Kansas Tpk north at I-135 - Wichita

One half mile south of the trumpet interchange (Exit 42) with Interstate 135 on I-35 north ahead of Big Slough. A 30 MPH placard was later added, with the whole assembly replaced by 2015. 10/20/03

I-35/Kansas Tpk north at I-135 - Wichita

Interstate 35 turns northeastward towards El Dorado, Emporia, and Kansas City as Exit 42 parts ways for I-135 north through Wichita. Greenouts added to these overheads by 2012 added Wichita for I-35 and amended Wichita to South Wichita for Exit 42. 10/20/03

I-35 Kansas Tpk south at I-135

I-35/Kansas Tpk south at I-135 - Wichita

Following the bridge across the Arkansas River, which was redecked during a two year project started on March 2, 2016,5 the Kansas Turnpike curves southwest on the two mile approach to Exit 42 with Interstate 135 in south Wichita. 10/31/16

I-35/Kansas Tpk south at I-135 - Wichita

Exit 42 is the last of four Wichita exits along the Kansas Turnpike. Interstate 35 angles southwest from Andover through southeastern reaches of the city by McConnell Air Force Base to cross paths with K-15 ahead of I-135. K-15 merges with I-135 north along the Canal Route through central Wichita. 10/31/16

I-35/Kansas Tpk south at I-135 - Wichita

Exit 42 departs from I-35 (Kansas Turnpike) south for Interstate 135 north for the seven mile drive to Downtown Wichita. Connections with U.S. 81 lead motorists west to Broadway and I-235 to the western suburbs along U.S. 54/400 (Kellogg Avenue). 10/31/16

Sources:

  1. Kansas Interstate 50th Anniversary.
  2. “Big Ditch bridge art on city agenda.” Wichita Eagle, The (KS), October 3, 2011.
  3. “Stimulus Money Funding 2-Year Project.” Wichita Eagle, The (KS), August 29, 2009.
  4. “$2 million break marks winning bid for McPherson County I-135 interchange project.” Hutchinson News, The (KS), November 11, 2015.
  5. “Arkansas River Bridge project to begin March.” Kansas Turnpike Authority, news release. February 29, 2016.
  6. “Ribbon Cutting to Mark Completion of I-135 Interchange in McPherson County.” Salina Scoop (KS), March 31, 2017.

Page updated February 3, 2020.