U.S. 69 runs north through the eastern counties of Kansas for 163.55 miles from Picher, Oklahoma to the Fairfax Industrial District of Kansas City. Overlaps take the US highway along side U.S. 160 from Columbus to Frontenac and U.S. 400 from Crestline to K-171 south of Pittsburg. Heading north from U.S. 54 in Fort Scott, U.S. 69 upgrades to an 80-mile long freeway to Interstate 35 at Lenexa.
The alignment of U.S. 69 changed several times over the years through the Kansas City area. The US highway followed Metcalf Avenue north to 63rd Street east, Rock Creek Drive, Johnson Drive and the 7th Street Trafficway north in 1958. Opening of the Turkey Creek Expressway (I-35) by 1961 moved U.S. 69 northward further along Metcalf Avenue, as it overlapped with Interstate 35 to the 18th Street Expressway north. U.S. 69 then took 18th Street north from I-70 along side U.S. 169 to Quindaro Boulevard (K-5) east and 7th Street to the Fairfax Bridge.
Changes made by 1972 moved U.S. 69 off of 18th Street and onto Interstate 70 east to 7th Street through the Kansas City center. By 1980, U.S. 69 replaced U.S. 69 Alternate along Overland Parkway north from Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park to I-35, and back to Metcalf Avenue via 63rd Street (U.S. 56 & 169). This alignment remains in place today.
Further south, speed limits increased on the U.S. 69 freeway from a point north of U.S. 54 in Bourbon County to 199th Street in Johnson County from 70 to 75 miles per hour (mph). The statewide speed limit on 807 miles of roadway increased to 75 mph on July 1, 2011.1
18th Street Expressway
The 18th Street Expressway was formerly run by the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) as the easternmost extent of the toll road system. The KTA sold additional bonds in 1983 to upgrade portions of the turnpike mainline, make safety improvements, and also pay the state's obligation for the 18th Street Expressway in Kansas City.2 The expressway was tolled until July 1991 when a $5.4 million contract was awarded by KTA to remove the toll booth and rebuild the freeway.3 The closure allowed crews to rebuild the freeway to its reopening in January 1992.4
Historically the 18th Street Expressway was designated as K-58. The limited access highway extended south through Roeland Park to U.S. 56 & 169 (Shawnee Mission Parkway) at Fairway until 1994. The four-lane road was named to Roe Avenue and redesigned into an at-grade boulevard during a $2.9 million project paid for with 80% federal funds and 20% funds by the city of Roeland Park. The roadway was lowered between 47th and 51st Streets while the overpass with 48th Street was removed. 48th Street was realigned to intersect Skyline Drive at a new traffic light as was nearby Roe Lane at 50th Street. Work ran from April to October of 1994.5
Preceding work along the 18th Street Expressway removed the deteriorating bridges and sharp ramp system joining the road with Johnson Drive west and Shawnee Mission Parkway (U.S. 56 & 169) by the site of Mission Center Mall. A signalized intersection was built in place of the interchange network there at the cost of $2.04 million. Work ran from February 5 through November 2003.6
North into Kansas City, the loop ramps at the cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 35 were also taken out to eliminate a weaving traffic pattern. Signalized intersections handle movements between I-35 and U.S. 69 there now. Additional changes in KC took place on the 18th Street Expressway at Ruby and Metropolitan Avenues. There all ramps were removed from the north side of Ruby Avenue.
- "U.S. 69 will go 75 mph." Morning Sun, The (Pittsburg, KS), June 22, 2011.
- "Sound Off." Journal-World (Lawrence, KS), April 28, 1995.
- "From the Kansan files...." Kansas City Kansan (KS), June 26, 2001.
- "Roadside attraction." The Kansas City Star (MO), January 16, 1992.
- "Roeland Park plans to add intersections along expressway." The Kansas City Star (MO), February 14, 1994.
- "Johnson Drive at Roe detour to begin - Intersection to be rebuilt - to improve safety." Kansas City Star, The (MO), February 4, 2003.
Page Updated 10-28-2016.