Kansas Highways Routelog

US Highway 40

Original Kansas Highway
Length: 427.138 miles
West Endpoint:
Junction US 40N/US 40S, Manhattan (1926-1935); Colorado State Line west of Weskan

East Endpoint:
Missouri State Line in Kansas City

Counties Passed through: Wallace, Logan, Gove, Trego, Ellis, Russell, Lincoln, Ellsworth, Saline, Dickinson, Geary, Riley, Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, Leavenworth, Wyandotte
Full Description


The original plan for US 40 through Kansas called for it to be routed on the Victory Highway from Kansas City, through Lawrence and Topeka, to Manhattan, where it followed the Midland Trail to Colby, Goodland, and hitting the Colorado line at Kanornado. The Victory Highway through Abilene, Salina, Ellsworth, Hays, and Oakley would have been US 340. The towns along the Victory Highway protested, claiming that the Midland trail got the nod because it passes through the hometown of Highway Commission Davidson. A meeting was held with the Victory Highway cities on December 18, 1925, leading to a compromise where the Midland Trail became US 40N, while the Victory became US 40S.

A May 1935 article from the Lawrence Journal-World indicated that K-10 would be re-routed on US 40 south of the Kansas River, while US 40 would follow K-10's alignment north of the river, easing congestion in Downtown Lawrence. K-10 was routed onto US 40's alignment, but US 40 was not moved. Instead, US 24 was extended west from Independence, Mo. along US 40, then took over K-10's alignment between Lawrence and Topeka. From Topeka to Manhattan, 24 followed US 40 once again. At Manhattan, US 24 replaced US 40N, while US 40 was replaced US 40S.

US 40 between Kansas City and K-7 was considered too dangerous in the 1930's. The State Highway Commission turned the old road (Parallel Parkway) to Kansas City and replaced it with a new four lane facility which, when completed in 1937, was the first stretch of four-lane dual carriageway road in Kansas and the region.

In 1938, Wyandotte County experimented with coloured concrete on stretches of US 40 through their county. The test showed that colored concrete was too expensive and the color additive was prone to dissolving concrete. Also, a new underpass was built under the Union Pacific railroad in North Lawrence. The roadbed for the new underpass is actually under the water level of the nearby Kansas River.

The original Victory Highway/US 40S/US 40 ran through Fort Riley, which was considered a problem when World War II broke out. On May 25, 1942, the Army closed US 40 through the fort and rerouted traffic around the fort on US 24 and US 77. This closure lasted through the end of the war.

In 1957, 40 was routed onto a new straight-shot alignment between Topeka and Junction City, bypassing Fort Riley problem. The old highway from Junction City to Manhattan was re-designated K-18, and the section between Manhattan and Topeka became US 24. Part of the new route was built under the 1956 Interstate Highway act - the road would be part of Interstate 70.

By 1964, I-70 was completed along a new alignment between Salina and Dorrance, bypassing the town of Ellsworth. 40 was rerouted along the new highway. Initially, the road between Dorrance and K-141 was to be turned back, with old US 40 east to Salina designated as an extension of K-141. However, the highway commission elected to retain the old road from K-141 west to Ellsworth, which was subsequently designated K-140.

In 1999, US 24-40 in Wyandotte county (which, by then, had lost its median) was rebuilt to a five-lane arterial to accompany the new Kansas Speedway and associated development. In 2008, the road was rebuilt from the Speedway west to the K-7 interchange with a wide median. Upon the completion of the project, State Avenue east of K-7 was turned back to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City and US 24/40 relocated along I-70. The interchange with K-7 was re-opened January 22, 2009, and reassurance signs started appearing along I-70 in February.

In 2015, the city of Lawrence agreeed to take over West 6th Street between the South Lawrence Trafficway (K-10) and Iowa Street (US 59. As a consequence of this agreement, US 40 was re-routed along the SLT and Iowa Street to the 6th and Iowa intersection. Signage reflecting the new alignment of US 40 began to appear in April, 2017.

Junction Guide
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