Interstate 70 or I -70 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of Kansas. The highway forms a long east-west connection in the state, from Kanorado on the Colorado border to the Missouri border in Kansas City. The route also passes through the capital, Topeka. The route is 681 kilometers long.
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I-70 at Quinter.
At Kanorado, Interstate 70 in Colorado crosses the border into the state of Kansas from Denver from Denver. The first part of I-70 runs over the barren High Plains, the highway descends very gradually over a distance of 500 kilometers from 1,200 to 300 meters above sea level. I-70 follows a monotonous route across the plains of western Kansas, most places on the route are quite small, but have a large catchment area. The first place of some magnitude is Goodland, followed by Colby. At Colby, US 24 exits, I-70 then heads southeast for 35 kilometers to Oakley, after which I-70 heads east again. At Oakley one also crosses the US 83, the westernmost north-south US Highway of Kansas. At WaKeeney you cross the US 283 and in the somewhat larger town of Hays the US 183.
At Hays one has already descended to 600 meters above sea level, after 150 kilometers to Salina one descends further to 400 meters altitude. The landscape along I-70 remains flat to slightly undulating with mostly barren pastures. At Salina, the main interchange of I-70 in western Kansas joins Interstate 135 to Wichita in the south and US 81 to Concordia in the north. I-70 passes north of Salina and stays outside this town.
After Salina there is another 180 kilometer long route to Topeka, the capital of Kansas. Here are a number of small towns on or along the route, such as Abilene, Junction City and Manhattan. Around Junction City, the terrain is temporarily more hilly around the Smoky Hill River. Here, I-70 passes close to Fort Riley, a large military base. US 77 is also crossed here. From Manhattan, I-70 parallels the Kansas River to Topeka.
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Topeka & Kansas Turnpike
I-70 passes through downtown Topeka, although Interstate 470 provides an alternate southbound bypass. Near the center of Topeka, I-70 has 2×3 lanes for a short time. On the north side of the center, I-70 runs on a viaduct, on the east side is sunken. In Topeka one also crosses the US 75. On the east side of Topeka, I-70 merges into the Kansas Turnpike, the toll road that runs from Oklahoma to Kansas City. I-70 piggybacks here on the easternmost section, a 70-kilometer stretch to the outskirts of Kansas City.
The Kansas Turnpike also has 2×2 lanes and roughly follows the Kansas River and crosses it at the town of Lawrence, where it also intersects US 59. The toll plaza follows between Lawrence and Bonner Springs, after which I-70 reaches the Kansas City metropolitan area.
I-70 at Kansas City.
The Kansas City metropolitan area is not as vast on the Kansas side as it is in Missouri. One of the largest landmarks on the route is the Kansas Speedway, which is located at the intersection with the Interstate 435 ring road. I-70 then has 2×3 lanes and then enters Kansas City. In the west of Kansas City you cross Interstate 635, after which you cross US 69 and US 169 shortly after each other. After this, Interstate 670 branches off, forming a bypass of I-70. After the center of Kansas City, Kansas, one crosses the Kansas River, after which the border with the state of Missouri follows. Missouri ‘s Interstate 70then continues through Kansas City, Missouri.
Before the construction of I-70, there were three possible east-west routes of interest for traffic between Colorado and Kansas City, north-south US 36, US 24 and US 40. Most of I-70 is built in the southernmost route of US 40. US 36 was dropped because there are no major towns so far north, while US 40 serves the largest towns in central Kansas, including Topeka and Salina.
In western Kansas, however, the preference was for a slightly more northerly route in order to also open up the places Colby, Goodland and Burlington, which were located in the corridor of the US 24. A contributing factor is that the corridor of the US 40 in this area does not visit places of any size at all. In terms of length, it would have made little difference which route I-70 would take between Limon, Colorado and Oakley, Kansas.
Interstate 70 has been constructed quickly. The first section of the Kansas Turnpike between the capital Topeka and Kansas City opened on October 20, 1956. Then, about 1959 or 1960, a number of sections were opened, such as in Kansas City, around WaKeeney, around Junction City, and west of Topeka. In the years that followed, the remaining missing links were completed in quick succession, with significant portions of I-70 passable by 1965. The city route through Topeka was also completed in 1965, although it was possible to drive around Topeka some years earlier when I-470 was completed along the south side of Topeka. In 1969 the last section in the far west of Kansas opened to traffic.
Part of Interstate 70 in Kansas is very old, and is one of the two Intercity Viaducts, located between Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. The first viaduct was already opened in 1907, and at that time it was a toll bridge over which a tram ran. In 1936 the tram track was removed and 1×4 lanes were available. In 1962, the second viaduct opened, and Interstate 70 near the Missouri border was a fact. In 1969 this viaduct was renamed the Lewis and Clark Viaduct.
The Lewis and Clark Viaduct in Kansas City was completely replaced between 2018 and 2020 and was closed to the west for two years. As of 2024, the Polk-Quincy Viaduct in Topeka will be replaced by a more modern and wider viaduct with 2×3 lanes.
|Exit 182||Exit 422||112 km||20-10-1956|
|Exit 422||Exit 423||2 km||1959/1960|
|Exit 115||Exit 135||32 km||1959/1960|
|Exit 269||Exit 300||50 km||1959/1960|
|Exit 341||Exit 356||24 km||1959/1960|
|Exit 93||Exit 115||35 km||1962|
|Exit 140||Exit 145||8 km||1962|
|Exit 252||Exit 269||27 km||1962|
|Exit 328||Exit 341||21 km||1962|
|Exit 356||Exit 361||8 km||1962|
|Exit 423||Exit 424||1 km||1962|
|Exit 313||Exit 328||24 km||1963|
|exit 53||Exit 93||64 km||1964/1965|
|Exit 145||Exit 159||22 km||1964/1965|
|Exit 199||Exit 252||85 km||1964/1965|
|Exit 300||Exit 313||21 km||1964/1965|
|Exit 361||Exit 182||10 km||1964/1965|
|exit 45||exit 53||13 km||1967|
|Exit 159||Exit 199||64 km||1967|
|exit 0||exit 45||72 km||1969|
The eastern portion of I-70 between Topeka and the edge of the Kansas City region coincides with the Kansas Turnpike and is a toll road. Tolls are relatively low and low traffic avoids I-70 for this reason. The toll can be avoided relatively easily via US 40 and State Route 10 via Lawrence. More than half of this route is a highway (SR-10) and US 40 does not pass through built-up areas between Topeka and Lawrence.
I-70 at Kansas City.
About 8,000 vehicles cross the Colorado border every day. East of WaKeeney, this rises to over 10,000 vehicles. Between Salina and Manhattan this rises to 15,000 and between Manhattan and Topeka to 20,000. In Topeka, 40,000 vehicles drive on 2×3 lanes. The toll road section has about 30,000 vehicles between Topeka and Kansas City. In Kansas City, 80,000 vehicles travel in 2×4 lanes. Traffic then spreads to downtown on I-670 and I-70 and 54,000 vehicles cross the Missouri border.
|exit 0||Exit 362||2×2|
|Exit 362||Exit 364||2×3||Topeka|
|Exit 364||Exit 411||2×2|
|Exit 411||Exit 418||2×3||Kansas City|
|Exit 418||Exit 421||2×4||Kansas City|
|Exit 421||Exit 423||2×2||Kansas City|
|Exit 423||Exit 424||2×3||Kansas City|