Kansas Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

Kansas has a relatively dense road network, built in a grid to divide the land for agriculture. Unlike states further east on the Great Plains, many minor roads in central and western Kansas are unpaved. The asphalt road network in the west of the state is significantly thinner. Kansas has one long toll road, the Kansas Turnpike.

Road management

The state highway authority is the Kansas Department of Transportation, abbreviated KDOT or KSDOT. KDOT operates a network of 15,223 kilometers of state highway, which also includes the US Highways and Interstate Highways. Kansas has a much larger network of 226,025 miles in total, the fourth largest network of any state, most of which is controlled by the counties and townships.

An important construction program of KDOT is Transportation Works, T-WORKS for short. This is an $8 billion program that lasts 10 years and started in 2010. This is financed by the sales tax. More than half of all investment goes to maintain existing infrastructure, in addition $1.7 billion has been allocated to expansion and modernization of the road network, the largest project is the Johnson County Gateway that connects I-35, I-435 and K-10 encompasses southwest Kansas City region. In addition, $1.6 billion is being made available to upgrade the counties’ road networks.

  • Bittranslators: State overview of Kansas, including geography, economy, population and history as well as introduction to major cities of Kansas.

Interstate Highways

Kansas is served by some Interstate Highways. The only major routes are Interstate 35 as a north-south route through the east of the state, from Wichita via Emporia to Kansas City, and Interstate 70 as a long east-west route through the north of the state, via Hays, Salina and Topeka to Kansas. City. Both I-35 and I-70 are part of the Kansas Turnpike, with Interstate 335 making up the missing section between Emporia and Topeka.

In addition, there are some auxiliary routes. Chief among these is Interstate 135, a north-south route through the middle of the state between Wichita and Salina. This was once envisioned as a much longer north-south route through Nebraska and South Dakota. Only the part in the middle of Kansas was eventually built. Interstate 235 forms Wichita ‘s western bypass and Interstate 435 forms Kansas City ‘s beltway. Interstate 470 forms the southern bypass of the state capital Topeka and Interstate 635 and Interstate 670 are freeways in Kansas City.

  • Deluxesurveillance: Nickname of Kansas as The Sunflower State. Also covers geography, history, economy, politics and administration of the state.

US Highways

A fair number of U.S. Highways traverse the state and are often the main routes for the regions they pass through, especially in western Kansas where there is only I-70. The US Highways largely run in a grid. Perhaps the most important US Highways are US 69, which is a fairly long freeway between Fort Scott and Kansas City, and US 81, which is an extension of I-135 and is a 2×2 divided highway into central Nebraska.

Relatively few US Highways in Kansas are constructed as a 2×2 divided highway compared to the neighboring states of Missouri and Oklahoma. US 75 has been run as a freeway for a short distance both north and south of Topeka. US 54 forms an east-west freeway through Wichita and US 169 is briefly a freeway around Paola south of Kansas City. Elsewhere there are few 2×2 lanes, only US 77 is briefly a classic 2×2 at-grade road between Arkansas City and Winfield.

In the sparsely populated western Kansas, all US Highways are relatively important thoroughfares due to the lack of highways. Only US 40 largely coincides with I-70. US 83, US 281, and US 283 form north-south routes through the west of the state. US 36, US 50, US 54, and US 56 form east-west routes. The major interchanges for these roads in the western part of the state are Dodge City and Great Bend. US 400 almost entirely coincides with other US Highways and has relatively little added value despite its length.

State Highways

In the state of Kansas they speak of ‘state highways’. The state is slightly different that the numbers in written language often have a one-letter prefix, for example K-10. This is common in few states. By law, state highways may not be located entirely in built-up areas. Some state highways have therefore been transferred to the lower authorities. The numbering of the state highways runs from 1 to 383, although most numbers above 279 are skipped. A number of state highways have been scrapped over the years. Kansas has several long state highways, the K-4 is 591 kilometers long. Kansas is a state that uses more conspicuous road number plates, shaped like a sunflower. Kansas is nicknamed the ‘Sunflower State’.

Some state highways are designed as freeways;

  • K-4: at Topeka
  • K-5: in Kansas City
  • K-10: Lawrence – Kansas City
  • K-18: Junction City – Manhattan
  • K-96: around Wichita

Toll roads

Kansas has one toll road, the 380-mile Kansas Turnpike. This toll road runs from Kansas City via Topeka, Emporia and Wichita to the Oklahoma border. The I-35, I-70, I-335 and I-470 are part of it at some point. However, the Kansas Turnpike is driven from end to end by relatively little traffic, as I-35 provides a toll-free alternative between Emporia and Kansas City.

The Kansas Turnpike is operated by the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) and is an agency separate from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The Kansas Turnpike Authority’s electronic payment option is the K-Tag.


In the 1920s there were hardly any paved roads in Kansas. Only in the larger towns were gravel roads and only around Kansas City were there some asphalt roads, which turned into gravel or sand not far outside the city. When the US Highway system was created in 1926, almost all of the then and later routes were still unpaved. During the 1930s, roads were paved on a large scale in Kansas, first the east-west routes mainly in the first half of the 1930s, and then the north-south routes in the latter half of the 1930s. By 1940, most US Highways were paved, although some outlying sections were unpaved until the early 1950s.

Construction of the Kansas highway system began in the early 1950s with the construction of the Kansas Turnpike, a toll road. It opened to traffic on October 20, 1956, from Kansas City via Topeka and Wichita to the Oklahoma border. It later became part of I-35, I-70, I-335 and I-470. The Interstate Highway system was also created in 1956, and construction of the second long-haul highway, Interstate 70, began almost immediately.. During the 1960s, large stretches of this highway opened to traffic, which was completed in 1969. Not all of I-35 is part of the Kansas Turnpike, between Emporia and Kansas City it follows an alternative, more southerly route. The first sections of I-35 were opened at Kansas City in the early 1960s, but it was not until the 1970s before this route was completed, around 1978 the route was ready. I-135, a north-south axis through the middle of the state from Wichita to Salina, was also constructed between 1971 and 1979. The last large-scale new construction was in the 1980s, when large parts of the I-435, the Kansas City ring road, was completed. In 1987, it could be ridden continuously. Since then, most new highways have been conversions from US Highways to freeways.

Kansas Road Network