The city of Newton picked up a boost for a project to extend Wheatridge Drive and Paddington Avenue as it works to fulfill a development agreement on S. Kansas Avenue.


The city was awarded about $2 million Thursday from the Kansas Department of Transportation for the extension of Wheatridge Drive and Paddington Avenue.


Gov. Laura Kelly and Deputy Transportation Secretary Lindsey Douglas made the funding announcement Thursday in Newton as part of the KDOT Cost Share Program.


The project will extend Wheatridge Drive from S. Kansas west to Paddington and extend Paddington from Wheatridge to Windward, with roundabouts at each intersection. The project also moves about 400 feet of Wheatridge east of S. Kansas to the south to line up with the new Wheatridge on the west and will install a signal at this location.


Windward will become right-in/right-out only on the west side of S. Kansas and the center median will be closed off. Quail Creek Drive will be extended to the west in another upcoming project.


Total construction cost is estimated at $2.77 million.


The improvements will serve a planned commercial development by Occidental Management directly south of Wheatridge. The development will be phased and will consist of general commercial along S. Kansas, potentially followed by residential and professional offices to the west.


The city entered into a development agreement with Occidental Managment in May of 2019 after several years of negotiation — Occidental purchased 76 acres intended for development south of Wheatridge Drive in 2013. The first phase of commercial development is expected to generate about $117,000 per year in property tax revenue for the city when fully developed.


The road improvements will also improve traffic safety in the area, which has seen significant increases in traffic volume and accident history in recent years.


According to the city, In 2012 the accident rate along S. Kansas from 14th Street to Quail Creek Drive was higher than the national average for streets of this type. Since that report, traffic volumes have increased from 6,785 vehicles per day south of Quail Creek in 2012 to 8,555 vehicles per day in 2018, according to KDOT count data. And in the past two years, 120 residential multi-family units were built along the S. Kansas corridor, and another phase of multi-family development is underway.


The project is expected to be bid this fall, with construction to begin early next year.