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K-96 (Kansas highway): Wikis


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Maintained by KDOT
Length: 297 mi (478 km)
West end: Colorado 96.svg CO-96, Colorado state line
US 83.svg U.S. Route 83 in Scott City
US 283.svg U.S. Route 283 in Ness City
US 183.svg U.S. Route 183 in Rush Center
US 56.svg U.S. Route 56 through Great Bend
US 281.svg U.S. Route 281 in Great Bend
US 50.svg U.S. Route 50 near South Hutchinson
I-235.svg Interstate 235 in Wichita
I-135.svg Interstate 135 in Wichita
I-35 (KS).svg Interstate 35/Kansas Turnpike in Wichita, Kansas
East end: US 54.svg US 400.svg US-54/400 east of Wichita
Counties: GL, WH, SC, LE, NS, RH, BT, RC, RN, SG
List of Kansas numbered highways
< K-95 K-98 >

K-96 is a state highway in central and southern Kansas. Its western terminus is at the Colorado state line east of Towner, Colorado, where it continues as Colorado State Highway 96; its eastern terminus since 1999 is at U.S. Route 54/U.S. Route 400 east of Wichita.

The eastern terminus was once at the Missouri state line, where the road continued as Route 96. With the construction of US-400, K-96 was either concurrent with or bypassed by this road, and the road was decommissioned east of the current eastern terminus. It was concurrent with U.S. Route 75 between Neodesha and Independence; and from Independence to Columbus it was replaced with a realigned U.S. Route 160. East of Alternate U.S. Route 69, it was turned over to the county. In Missouri, Missouri 96 was terminated at Route 171, and the section between Missouri 171 and the Kansas state line was turned into Missouri Supplemental Route YY.

Route description

K-96 begins at the Colorado border in Greeley County, just east of Towner, Colorado. It heads east from this point, bypassing Horace and crossing K-27 in Tribune. After crossing into Wichita County, it bypasses Selkirk to the south and meets K-25 in Leoti, before running south of both Marienthal (served by K-167) and Modoc. K-96 junctions with US-83 in Scott City, followed by 24 miles (38.6 km) without another highway junction until K-23 at Dighton.

After leaving Dighton, K-96 runs parallel to Walnut Creek, providing access to a George Washington Carver Monument and passing north of Beeler. It meets US-283 at Ness City. East of Ness City, K-96 runs through Bazine, Alexander, and Nekoma. It crosses US-183 at Rush Center, then bypasses Timken and runs through Albert and Heizer, gradually curving south to enter Great Bend.

In Great Bend, K-96 begins a concurrency with US-56 and crosses US-281. The two highways pass through Ellinwood and Chase before entering Lyons, where K-96 heads south with K-14, while US-56 continues east to McPherson and Interstate 135. K-96 and K-14 pass through Sterling and turn east south of town, before K-14 splits off to continue south. K-96 continues east until Nickerson, where it takes a more southeast course to bypass Hutchinson to the west and south. South of South Hutchinson, it has a brief concurrency with US-50.

After splitting from US-50, K-96 provides access to, but does not directly serve, the Amish community of Yoder, Haven, Mount Hope, and Maize before entering the Wichita metropolitan area.

Throughout Wichita, K-96 is a freeway. It concurs with Interstate 235 until that route ends at I-135, which it briefly follows southward until it splits off westbound onto its own freeway alignment. It continues eastbound until reaching the Jabara Airport, where it curves south. K-96 has an interchange (exit 53) with Interstate 35 (the Kansas Turnpike) before it ends at a trumpet interchange with US-54/400.

K-96 between Rush Center and Wichita is a part of the National Highway System.

Between Hutchinson and Wichita, K.S.A. 68-1044 designates K-96 as the State Fair Freeway (even though it is not a full freeway).


View along K-96 in Scott City

The choice of the number 96 comes from the telephone number of the Wichita Automobile parts store of F.W. "Woody" Hockaday. During the 1910s, Hockaday marked distances between towns at his own expense along the major auto trails with a large red "H" and arrows pointing the direction. When the state began numbering the routes, they allowed Hockaday to pick the number of the route that was posted with the most signs, which consisted of the Kansas-Colorado Boulevard, the Central Route, and the Ozark Trail.

The Wichita-Hutchinson segment was straightened in the early 1970s, bypassing the towns of Maize and Mount Hope. In recent years, urban sprawl has brought the highway within city limits. Near the Amish community of Yoder, symbolic warning signs were placed on the road to warn drivers of the presence of carriages on the cross streets.

By 1996, the roadway had been widened to a four-lane expressway, and the symbolic warning signs near Yoder were not retained, as the signs did not comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices at the time. An interchange was built at Yoder Road; however, carriage traffic still crossed the roadway at-grade. In September 2000, a minivan heading home from the Kansas state fair struck a carriage, killing the elderly occupants and their horses. The driver of the van could not see the carriage in time to avoid the accident, and was cleared of wrongdoing. The Kansas Department of Transportation received bad publicity in the wake of the accident because of the removal of the carriage warning signs. Despite the non-compliance with the MUTCD, new symbolic signs were installed along the roadway in 2001. The expressway segment of K-96 has been posted with a speed limit of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) since the repeal of the national speed limit. This has also been a contention in accidents along this stretch, and some state legislators have attempted to write legislation to lower the speed limit along this stretch.




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