Keep left, and keep moving.
Starting Tuesday afternoon, those are the new instructions for K-Tag users driving from Lawrence to Kansas City on the Kansas Turnpike.
The eastbound side of the Turnpike’s eastern terminal near Bonner Springs will switch over from a single 20 mph K-Tag lane to two 55 mph lanes, the Turnpike announced Monday.
Eventually, the speed limit will be 75 mph once all work is complete and the construction zone cleared.
The Turnpike calls the new fast-lanes “open road tolling.”
Under construction since March, the Turnpike’s $16.5 million eastern terminal reconstruction project to add open-road tolling in both directions is nearing completion. Open-road tolling opened to westbound traffic Aug. 24.
Now, K-Tag users (or drivers with other compatible transponders) keep left and continue driving at highway speeds through gateless toll lanes, while cash or credit card customers exit the highway to the right to pay at tollbooths. The tollbooths do still read K-Tags, but drivers must slow to 10 mph.
Turnpike spokeswoman Rachel Bell said drivers should remember that, with K-Tag lanes on the left and toll booths on the right, “it is opposite of what it had been in the past.”
For safety, she said, drivers who get confused and accidentally end up in the high-speed lane should keep moving.
“If they find themselves in the highway speed lanes, they really just need to keep going. We will send them a violation via their license plate,” Bell said. “They should not stop and try and resolve the issue at that time.”
Also new, Bell said, the Turnpike has now posted the prices for drivers who go through the high-speed lanes with no K-Tag or other compatible transponder.
A typical passenger vehicle or motorcycle can expect a bill in the mail for $19.88, according to the posted toll violations. For vehicles with trailers or commercial vehicles, the charge is between $27 and $127.
The Turnpike plans reconstruction projects to add open-road tolling to the eastern Topeka toll plaza in 2018 and to the southern terminal near the Oklahoma border in 2019.