According to Existingcountries, State Route 96, also known as K-96 is a state route in the U.S. state of Kansas. The road forms a long east-west route in the west of the state, running from the Colorado border through the town of Hutchinson to Wichita. The total route is 478 kilometers long. The road forms a freeway around Wichita.
K-96 begins on the Colorado state border west of the village of Horace. This is where State Route 96 in Colorado joins from Pueblo. The road then heads east for a long stretch over the flat to rolling prairies, which are largely treeless. Western Kansas is quite arid, so much of the farming here is through circular irrigation. Within the first 300 miles are only two larger towns of regional importance, Scott City and Ness City, where US 83 and US 283 intersect, respectively. One eventually reaches Great Bend, a small town through which the road runs. In Great Bend you cross the US 281 and start double numbering with US 56.
Central Kansas & Wichita
Between Great Bend and Lyons, K-96 and US 56 are double-numbered for approximately 55 kilometers. This section leads due east across the prairies. In Lyons, K-96 turns south and winds through the town of Hutchinson. This is one of the larger cities in Kansas and traffic on K-96 goes around the city on a west and south bypass. Hutchinson’s southern bypass is primarily part of US 50 and is a short freeway. K-96 makes only short use of this and then heads southeast.
Between Hutchinson and Wichita, K-96 is a 2×2 divided highway with bypasses at all villages. From Maize begins the freeway that forms the northwest approach road to the larger city of Wichita. K-96 then runs as a freeway around the north and east sides of Wichita. The road is part numbered on the north side of Wichita with Interstate 135 and Interstate 235. The highway around Wichita has mostly 2×2 lanes and passes through the suburbs. To the east of the city is an indirect connection to the Kansas Turnpike (I-35), after which K-96 terminates shortly afterwards at an interchange with US 54.
According to Anycountyprivateschools, in the early 1930s, there were almost no paved roads in the western two-thirds of Kansas. The portion of K-96 between Lyons and Hutchinson was one of the first roads west of the US 81 corridor to be paved. The K-96 ran between Lyons and Wichita via the angular grid, so you had to make frequent turns to follow the road. In the 1930s, the K-96 corridor was not paved beyond the only section between Lyons and Hutchinson. Even the section between Hutchinson and Wichita was unpaved in 1940.
However, this changed during World War II, when the K-96 corridor was rapidly paved, by 1945 practically the entire road was paved except for a short stretch northwest of Great Bend. The road was built here in the late 1940s over a new route. West of Hutchinson, the route of the K-96 has undergone little adjustment since that time.
Hutchinson – Wichita
Since the 1960s, K-96 has been straightened between Hutchinson and Wichita, first between Hutchinson and Haven about 1962, and about 1971 between Haven and Wichita. The highway portion northwest of Wichita opened to I-235 in the early 1980s. The freeway section along the east side of Wichita was built in the early 1990s and opened between I-135 and 13th Street in about 1993, with the missing section continuing to US 54 in 1994 or 1995. Also in the 1990s, the road between Hutchinson and Wichita upgraded to 2×2 divided highway. Supposedly in 2002 or 2003, the grade-separated super two along the west side of Hutchinson opened to traffic, eliminating the need for traffic through this town.
Every day about 600 vehicles drive on the border with the state of Colorado. This is further up to just before Great Bend at mostly 1,000 to 1,500 vehicles per day. The passage through Great Bend on US 56 has a maximum of 16,000 vehicles per day. Between Great Bend and Lyons, 3,500 to 4,000 vehicles a day and 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles run between Lyons and Hutchinson. Between Hutchinson and Wichita, there are 6,000 to 10,000 vehicles per day.
The highway section around Wichita is obviously the busiest. This increases from 12,000 vehicles on the outskirts of Wichita to 27,000 vehicles at the interchange with I-235 and 41,000 vehicles on the dual-numbering I-235. 62,000 vehicles per day drive on the double numbering with I-135. Around the east side of Wichita, 63,000 vehicles are initially driving, dropping to 19,000 vehicles near the junction with I-35.