Markets and Transportation

Whether by highway, rail or air, Kansas offers excellent transportation and marketing advantages for your business. Because we’re centrally located, and because we’ve focused on building and maintaining an outstanding multimodal infrastructure, it’s easier and cheaper to ship to and from Kansas. We’re home to numerous production facilities, warehouses and distribution centers that have found shipping raw materials and finished goods is more profitable when you’re located in the nation’s heartland.


T-WORKS, the comprehensive transportation program passed by the 2010 Kansas Legislature,  is built to preserve and improve the state’s multimodal transportation system and will create tens of thousands of jobs.

The $7.8 billion T-WORKS program includes $2.5 billion in new revenues during the 10-year plan. The new revenues will come from increased registration fees for heavy trucks, additional bonding authority for KDOT and a sales tax deposit that takes effect in 2014. It is estimated that T-WORKS will create or sustain 175,000 direct and indirect jobs in Kansas over the next 10 years. The program passed by the Legislature provides $4.2 billion in highway preservation funding, ensuring that every mile of Kansas highway will see some preservation work. It also sets aside $1.8 billion in modernization and expansion project construction funds to address needed infrastructure and capacity improvements on Kansas roadways.

T-WORKS also provides $6 million a year for public transit services, which increased to $11 million a year in 2013, and $3 million a year in aviation funding, which increases to $5 million in 2014. The program also provides $5 million a year for rail infrastructure projects  that began in FY 2014. The legislation requires that KDOT spend a minimum of $8 million in each county in Kansas during the course of the program. It also gives KDOT the authority to manage debt under a debt service cap of 18 percent. The cap ensures that the amount the State Highway Fund (SHF) owes in debt service in any given year does not exceed 18 percent of the expected SHF revenues.


Following passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, America’s heartland entered a new era as an international trade crossroads. The 1,500 miles of I-35 and I-29 create the only central interstate highway corridor linking the three countries of North America. This corridor carries significant trade with Mexico and Canada.

It is no secret that some of the nation’s leading trucking lines have major facilities in Kansas City. Its strategic location at the convergence of I-35 and I-70 places it literally at the crossroads of America. Trucks leaving Kansas can quickly and efficiently reach the international ports on either coast or the NAFTA trade partners to the north and the south. Kansas City is one of the nation’s leading freight rail hubs as well, ranking first in annual rail tonnage and second in annual rail volume.

The designation of I-35 and I-29 as “high-priority corridors” in the early 1990s made these interstates eligible for additional federal funding through the National Corridor Planning and Development (NCPD) Program. Two successfully negotiated Memoranda of Understanding with the Treasury Department have helped eight states secure more than $30 million to improve transportation technology and infrastructure on these two major interstates. In addition, efforts are currently underway to develop prototype customs facilities in Kansas City, making it a “high-tech inland port.” KC SmartPort, a non-profit economic development organization, is the authority on logistics opportunities in the 18-county, bi-state Kansas City region. KC SmartPort promotes and enhances the Kansas City region’s status as a leading North American logistics hub, and its mission is two-fold: 1. To grow the Kansas City area’s transportation industry by attracting businesses with significant transportation and logistics elements; and 2. To make the industry and the region more competitive in the movement of goods into, out of and through the Kansas City bi-state region.


 Freight Times

Major Delivery Zone Cities 
 Truck load
 Zone 1  Zone 2  Zone 3  Zone 4 
 Chicago  New Orleans  Miami  Los Angeles
 Memphis  Atlanta  Boston  Seattle
 Kansas City  New York  Phoenix  Portland
 Omaha  Salt Lake City  Billings  San Francisco
 Denver  Houston  Montreal, PQ  Vancouver, BC
 Des Moines  Cincinnati  Toronto, ON  
 Minneapolis/St. Paul  Washington, D.C.    
 Dallas/Ft. Worth  Baltimore    
 Source: Survey of Buying Power, SBP-Online Report

Maximum Dimensions Allowed on Kansas Highways 
 Legal Width   8.5 ft 
 Legal Height  14.0 ft
 Legal Length (single motor vehicle)  45.0 ft
 Legal Length (truck-trailer combinations)  65.0 ft
 Legal Length (each trailer when pulled in tandem)  28.5 ft
 Legal Length (tractor-trailer combinations)  No limit


Kansas takes great pride in its excellent road system, which has resulted in Kansas being consistently ranked high  for having the best roads in the nation.  In addition, our state ranks third in total road mileage nationally with 140,512 total road and street miles and 10,530 highway miles (of which more than 875 miles are quality interstate four-lanes). We are a major trucking hub, with I-70 accessing the east and west coasts and I-35 running north and northeast to the Kansas/Missouri border. I-35 (KTA) connects with I-135 in Wichita and U.S. 81 at Salina to make a south to north corridor with Oklahoma and Nebraska. Another interstate, I-29, heads north from Kansas City and I-44, via U.S. 400, offers easy east-west, four-lane access in communities in southeast Kansas. Many other major highways, including U.S 54, U.S. 75, U.S. 59, U.S. 281, U.S. 283 and U.S. 83 make areas across the state convenient to travel.

Currently, there are over 1,000 private carriers, 350 intrastate for-hire carriers and over 9,500 Kansas-based motor carriers with intrastate and/or interstate operating authority licensed to operate in Kansas. Thanks to our state’s proximity to major markets, our transit times and shipping rates for common carriers can compete with any in the country. Kansas motor carrier regulations, covering truck and trailer size and weight, mirror many federal guidelines.


Kansas ranks in the top 10 in the United States in railroad mileage with  4,721 miles of track, 2.23 percent of all U.S. railroad miles. Our four Class I and 13 Class III (short line) rail carriers ensure freight service to virtually anywhere in Kansas, since the countless tons of grain grown here have for decades mandated a comprehensive rail system. Class I rail carriers roll over 2,790 miles of track throughout the state. The state’s Class III rail carriers use an additional  1,931 miles of track. Railroads continue to move more freight, increasing utilization of lines and efficiency of their operations.

More than 900 incorporated and unincorporated cities stand along Kansas’ tracks. Many communities are served by more than one railroad, and businesses in several cities can take advantage of reciprocal switching agreements between railroads. Three intermodal facilities operate in the Kansas City area. The Kansas City area, a convenient first stop en route to all major marketing regions, ranks as the second leading rail center in the nation.

Kansas is home to two switching and terminal railroads and two intermodal facilities. BNSF Railway recently built a $1 billion intermodal transportation facility and logistics park in southwest Johnson County that is now operational. Logistics Park Kansas City is a 550-acre intermodal facility with direct access to I-35, capable of up to three million square feet of direct-rail served property and is designed to meet the growing demands of freight rail transportation. 

 In-Transit Rail Shipping Times to Major Cities
 Destination  Rail Shipments
Atlanta     5 Days 
Boston 6 Days 
Chicago 2 Days
Cleveland  5 Days 
Dallas  3 Days 
Denver  2 Days 
Detroit  5 Days 
Kansas City  1 Day 
Los Angeles  5 Days 
Memphis  3 Days 
New York  7 Days 
Omaha  2 Days 
Oklahoma City  2 Days 
Philadelphia  6 Days 
Phoenix  3 Days 
St. Louis  2 Days 
Seattle  5 Days 

Kansas Turnpike Exceptions 
        Kansas Turnpike regulations are similar to those 
        for other Kansas highways with a few exceptions:

  • Trailers 59.5 feet each may be pulled in combination
  • Maximum length is 125 feet without prior authorization
  • Maximum gross weight is 120,000 pounds
  • Maximum width is 12 feet without prior authorization

(K.S.A. 2000 Supp. 8-1904, K.S.A. 8-1908, 8-1909)

Legal Weights Allowed on Kansas Highways 
 Single Axle  20,000 lbs
 Tandem Axle  34,000 lbs*
Kansas Highway Gross Weight Limits
 Interstate Highway  80,000 lbs
 Other Highways  85,500 lbs
Tandem axles with center less than 40 inches apart are considered one axle.

Kansas Rail Miles Owned and Operated 
 Class I Carriers  
Main Line
Lines Leased
to Class III


 Burlington Northern Santa Fe
 1,237 0 1,237  449
 Kansas City Southern      18      0  18  0
 Norfolk Southern   0  0  0  3
 Union Pacific System  1,800 265  1,535 837
 Class I Total  3,055 265  2,790  1,289
 Class III Carriers  
Main Line
Lines Leased
From Class I

 Blackwell Northern Gateway
18 0 18  0 
 Blue Rapids Railroad  10  0   10   0 
 Boot Hill & Western Railroad 10  10 
 Cimarron Valley Railroad 183 183 
 Garden City Western Railroad 45  45 
 Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad 642  111 753 36 
 KYLE 271 146 417 13 
 Missouri & Northern Arkansas
 Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado 
 Railway, Inc.
122  122 17 
 South Kansas & Oklahoma 305  305  36
 V & S Railway 25 25 
 Kansas City Terminal 27  27 
 New Century AirCenter Railway 0
 Wichita Terminal Association
 Class III Total 1,666 265 1,931 109
 Grand Total 4,721 530 4,721 1,398
 Source: Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas State Rail Plan 2011

Click here to view the 2013 Kansas Railroad Map


Convenient access and direct routes to all national air service hubs is afforded by airports strategically located across all regions of the state.  In the Kansas City area, Kansas City International Airport ( MCI) is the primary passenger and cargo service provider for Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska.   MCI is noted for its easy gate access and is described as “the world’s most people-friendly airport.”  An extensive highway system permits easy transit of goods from Kansas businesses to  MCI, which also provides state-of the-art cargo handling facilities.

In the Wichita or South Central region of Kansas, Wichita  Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport(ICT)  hosts nearly 60 daily flight operations serving major hubs throughout the United States, including Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Scottsdale/Mesa, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Federal Express, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and UPS provide cargo service from  Eisenhower National.   Eisenhower National accommodates all aircraft and is demonstrating its commitment to innovation by constructing a state of the art terminal.

Eisenhower National’s campus of 3,300 acres is home to more than 70 businesses including air cargo, hotels, restaurants, aircraft manufacturers, aircraft service and repairs, and government functions.   Eisenhower National is conveniently located 5.2 miles southwest of the Central Business District, bordered on the north by U.S. Highway 54/400 and on the south by Highway K-42. It also provides easy access to and from Interstate 235. Supplementing  Eisenhower National Airport is Colonel James Jabara Airport, a general aviation reliever airport for the Wichita metro area. Located nine miles northeast of the Central Business district, Jabara Airport consists of 802 acres, of which, 208 acres are available for aviation development.

In the North Central region, the Manhattan Regional Airport (MHK) provides non-stop jet service daily to Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/ Fort Worth.  Also in the central region, the Salina Regional Airport (SLN) provides turboprop service to Kansas City.

In the Central and Northwest region, Great Bend (GBD) provides turboprop service to Wichita, and Hays (HYS) services Denver by jet aircraft.

In Southwest Kansas, Garden City Regional Airport (GCK) provides daily jet service to Dallas / Fort Worth.  Daily commercial flights to Denver  are available from the Dodge City airport (DDC) and  Liberal Mid-America Regional Airport (LBL) by turboprop aircraft.

Air cargo carriers serving Kansas include Airborne Express, Air Cargo Carriers, Baron Aviation, BAX Global, Central Air Southwest, DHL Airways, EGL, Emery Worldwide, Federal Express, Kitty Hawk, Planemasters, United Parcel Service and the United States Postal Service. Most commercial airlines also offer small package delivery services to businesses.

There are approximately 140 public use airports in Kansas.  No community in Kansas is more than 30 miles from a public use airport.  Approximately 91 percent of the population is within a 45-minute drive to an airport with a runway of 5,000 feet or longer with jet fuel available and a precision (or LPV) approach.

Many air/industrial parks now operate on the sites of former military bases, serving as attractive, low-cost locations for businesses seeking independent air services for cargo and company personnel.

Kansas’ involvement in aviation is legendary. More than 55 percent of the general aviation aircraft produced in the United States  have originated in Kansas. Bombardier Learjet and Textron Aviation are headquartered in Wichita – Textron Aviation operates major manufacturing plants for both Beechcraft and Cessna in Wichita. Airbus continues to expand their engineering center. The Wichita area is home to The National Institute for Aviation Research. More than a dozen labs conduct aerospace research from concept design to full-scale structural tests.  In addition, Spirit AeroSystems operates a major research, manufacturing and assembly complex in Kansas, and numerous adjacent support businesses complement the Wichita aircraft industry. The aviation avionics industry is located in other parts of Kansas, as well. The corporate headquarters of Garmin and the avionics division of Honeywell are located in Olathe, Kan.


Kansas has access to 122 miles of the Missouri River along the northeast corner of the state. Kansas has a total of eight commercial terminals located near Atchison, Leavenworth, Lansing, White Cloud and Kansas City. The Port of Kansas City – Woodswether Terminal – is located within one mile of downtown Kansas City and the interstate highway loop at River mile 367.1 on the south bank of the Missouri River. The 7-acred terminal recently underwent two significant phases of construction to address infrastructure ingress/egress and warehousing repairs.

Foodstuffs, fertilizer, scrap steel, cement and other raw materials, as well as machinery, comprise the bulk of shipments. The shipping season generally lasts between eight and nine months.

The Port of Catoosa, an inland seaport located near Tulsa, Okla., is approximately 50 miles from the Kansas border. The South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad and the BNSF Railway provide direct rail access to the Port. It is a year-round, economical alternative to other means of travel and is especially advantageous to businesses manufacturing large goods that need to be assembled prior to shipping. The Port has been approved for a $6.4 million grant in federal funds for a $13 million rehabilitation of the main dock.


Foreign trade zones (FTZs) in Kansas provide a duty-free and quota-free entry point for foreign goods into specific areas under customs supervision for an unlimited period of time. Kansas offers a variety of sites managed by grantees in Kansas City (Zone 17) and Wichita (Zone 161).

Kansas has taken advantage of the new Alternative Site Framework (ASF) foreign trade zone designation intended to provide greater flexibility and expedite access to the benefits of the Foreign Trade Zone program. As a result, a company in the designated region is not restricted to a site specific FTZ, as the entire county is eligible for FTZ benefits under the ASF designation. This streamlined approach offers a quicker turnaround time and lower cost, allowing grantees to locate zone designation where companies are located.

The Kansas City FTZ has a number of Magnet and Usage-Driven sites, including a five-acre site with 220,000 square feet of above-ground covered space; a second five-acre site with a 26,000 square-foot warehouse, a 50,000 square-foot warehouse, 21 acres in the Leavenworth Area Business Center and over 1,000 acres at two locations in Topeka: Forbes Field/Topeka Air Industrial Park and Phillip Billard Airport/Industrial Park. The new ASF procedures were adopted for a five-county area including Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte that allow for a six-week approval process for certain types of designations with a significant reduction in the company’s out of pocket expenses.

The Wichita FTZ has received approval to use the new ASF procedures for a central region that includes Butler, Harvey, McPherson, Reno, Saline, Sedgwick and Sumner counties. The new system makes it faster and less expensive for area businesses to establish their facilities as foreign trade zones, with an estimated turnaround time of 30 to 40 days. Existing Magnet sites include 120 acres and 800,000 square feet of covered warehouse and assembly space in Wichita.

Goods brought into a zone or sub-zone may be stored, manipulated or mixed with domestic or foreign materials used in manufacturing processes or exhibited for sale. Anything shipped out of a zone into the United States customs territory is then subject to duties. Goods reshipped to foreign nations are never subject to U.S. customs duties.