Interstate 235 is the western belt line of Wichita. Freeway connections join the 16 mile route with K-96 west toward Hutchinson and U.S. 54/400 to Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (ICT). The urban loop connects with Interstate 135 at both ends and mostly parallels the Big Ditch (the Wichita-Valley Center Floodway for the Arkansas River) and its associated levee system. Traffic counts top out on the commuter route at 50,500 vehicles per day (vpd) as recorded in 2015 between U.S. 54/400 (Kellogg Avenue) and West 13th Street N (Exit 8).
Portions of Interstate 235 date back to the mid 1950s,1 with construction underway through the 1960s. The cloverleaf interchange joining the freeway with U.S. 54 (Kellogg Avenue) opened in 1962,2 and per the 1962 Kansas Official Highway Map, all of I-235 south to the Kansas Turnpike and north to U.S. 81 (Broadway Avenue) was as well. The freeway link east to K-254 (and eventually I-135) was completed by 1966.3
A 2006-07 Corridor Study Plan involving Interstate 235 at Kellogg Avenue and Central Avenue identified ways to improve traffic flow along the freeway loop. Preliminary designs for improvements to the road commenced in 2008, with construction on a multi-year project announced in summer 2011. With work split into phases, the Red Project focused on replacing two of the loop ramps at the cloverleaf interchange joining I-235 and U.S. 54/400 (Kellogg Avenue) with flyover ramps. A third loop ramp was improved geometrically, while auxiliary lanes were added to I-235 between both interchanges. Subsequent work reconstructed the freeway mainline of Interstate 235.1
Costing $103 million, the Red Project started on November 10, 2015. Added were a two-lane flyover taking motorists from I-235 south to U.S. 54/400 (Kellogg Avenue) east and a single lane flyover accommodating traffic from I-235 north to Kellogg Avenue west. Additional work expanded the Kellogg Avenue overpass above West Street and separated the West Street off-ramp on U.S. 54/400 east with the ramps from Interstate 235. Construction wrapped up in Summer 2019.1
The timetable for the estimated $239 million Blue, Yellow and Green projects will be determined later. The Blue Project replaces loop ramps in the northwest and southeast quadrants of the exchange between I-235 and U.S. 54/400 (Kellogg Avenue) with flyover ramps. It also grade separates the westbound ramps to I-235 from the West Street entrance ramp. The Yellow Project rebuilds the bridges for Kellogg Avenue over the Big Ditch. The Green Project replaces ramps at the diamond interchange on I-235 at Central Avenue.4
A $35 million project added two flyovers connecting I-235 north with 13th Street N across the Big Ditch and from 13th Street east to the freeway south. The new ramps opened following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on November 21, 2014. A feasibility study for the new bridges was approved by the city of Wichita in 1994, with construction finally starting in late 2012.5