A $2.9 million state grant will help pay for improvements along Kimball Avenue, in what is called the North Campus Corridor.

Manhattan city commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). Commissioners also agreed to a proposal with the power company Evergy to bury power lines in the North Campus Corridor area.

The North Campus Corridor is the area along North Manhattan Avenue, Kimball Avenue, Denison Avenue, and College Avenue. It was identified as an area of growth as a result of the National Bio-Agro Defense Facility.

The city will be reimbursed for payments made on the project during construction, officials said. KDOT has given a total of $7.1 million of grant money to the city for the project.

KDOT became involved with project because of the number of accidents in the area, officials said. There have been 214 car crashes in North Campus Corridor from 2012 to 2017, officials said.

“That’s a really high number,” said Brian Johnson, city engineer.

This amounts to 30 crashes per year. Three people have died, and 65 were injured in those crashes.

“At the end of the day, it’s also about safety,” mayor Usha Reddi said. “And pointing out how many accidents that happen at some of those intersections is very important.”

Johnson said the answer to reducing car crashes is to eliminate driveways and build raised medians, similar to what crews did with the raised median on Bluemont Avenue east of Manhattan Avenue a few years ago.

“All of a sudden our accident counts went down,” Johnson said.

Reverse frontage roads will allow access after the removal of driveways, Johnson said. Johnson said crews will remove six driveways.

Officials said the city began talking about this project in 2012 to improve the area. In 2013, then-Kansas State University president Kirk Schulz presented a plan to the city for growth in the area as the National Bio-Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) moves in, according to a city memo.

“It’s up to us to create the best community we can for the campus too,” Morse said about the project.

K-State thanked the city for its support of this project.

“Tonight’s request will help move us forward in the next step of the infrastructure that brings us one more step closer to the potential of realizing this North Campus Corridor master plan,” said Linda Cook, chief of staff and director of community relations at K-State.

This portion of the project includes burying overhead power lines along with other street and infrastructure improvements, which costs $10 million. The infrastructure costs $692,142, officials estimated.

Officials continue to explore grants to pay for the entire project.

The total project is slated for full completion in 2023, officials said.

“It’ll be a great addition to the community when we complete it,” said commissioner Linda Morse.

The entire North Campus Corridor project includes 13 phases and the city has completed about 75% of the project, said Brian Johnson, city engineer.

Work completed thus far includes widening of lanes for Marlatt Avenue and Denison Avenue, among other streets, increasing stormwater capacity for Marlatt, creating new trails and increased street and pedestrian lighting in the area, among other improvements.

In the remaining project phases, crews will install a new traffic signal along Claflin Road and widen North Manhattan Avenue to four lanes, among other changes.

City commissioners will review this project again in the fall and winter to discuss future phases of the project.