BAXTER SPRINGS — The Kansas Department of Transportation was in Baxter Springs last week to listen to resident’s concerns about a proposed expansion of US Highway 400 to Interstate 44.

The proposed extension would begin construction in the fall of 2017 and the current plan has the new four-lane highway running from the Highway 400 just west of Baxter, where it merges with 166 to join up with I-44 near Downstream Casino and Resort.

Rather than widen the existing roadway, a new highway and interchanges would be constructed just south of the existing 166/400 corridor.

KDOT Spokesman Steve Rockers said this project has been in the planning stages for a long time.

“We have $38 million to make improvements along that stretch,” he said. “It’s always been the goal of KDOT to build a 4 lane section between Kansas City and I-44 this is the most southern chunk of that.”

He said the purpose of the meeting was to garner grass-roots support for the project, which he said will be of benefit to the area.

“It’s important just for the economic (impact) ... to create some economic development,” Rockers said.

Local businessman Burt Kellum concurred.

“If they complete this thing from kansas city to I-44 that’ll mean a lot more traffic for us and make commerce with the Kansas City area easier and that’s a good thing,” he said, noting there were a few people concerned about the proposed route. “(There are) a lot of opinions here about the route the thing is going to take, but there again there’s other people are in charge of that and who know more than we do probably.”

KDOT is asking residents to take an online survey at www.us166survey1.com now through October 31.