Parsons Bypass re-routes US 400 from Parson's downtown through farmland north of downtown. The bypass completes an upgraded "Super Two" route between Parsons and Wichita, providing a high-speed alternative to Parson's Main Street for vehicles using the US 400 corridor.
Project Type:Bypass Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:19,572 Length (mi):10.90
Economic Distress:0.70 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):34 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.43
Employment Growth Rate (%):-0.15 Market Size:13,025 Airport Travel Distance:68.1333 Topography:4
Region:Great Lakes / Plains State:KS County:Labette
City:Parsons Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:Parsons
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:37.367826 / -95.266732
Initial Study Date:1999 Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:2000 Constr. End Date:2004
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2004 Planned Cost (YOE $):27,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):27,500,000 Actual Cost (curr $):35,610,436
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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Parsons Bypass re-routes US 400 from Parson's downtown through farmland north of downtown. The bypass completes an upgraded "Super Two" route between Parsons and Wichita, providing a high-speed alternative to Parson's Main Street for vehicles using the US 400 corridor. US 400 connects the City of Parsons to Interstate 44 in Missouri to the East, and Wichita, Western Kansas, and Colorado to the West. Parsons tourism and retail shopping activity has increased in downtown area and several businesses have located to the bypass, north of the city, to capitalize on its ease of access. Over 1,400 jobs have been attracted to Parsons due in part to a new cluster of business activity around the intersection of US-400 and US 59. This has been an important economic contribution to the city since the closure of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant and the damage to Parsons caused by an F3 tornado in 2000.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Parsons is located in the southeastern corner of Kansas, in Labette County. One hundred twenty eight miles East of Wichita, and located at the intersection of U.S. 400 and US 59. The Tri-City public airport which serves Parsons, Neodesha and Independence is located 11 miles to the west. Union Pacific purchased the Katy (Missouri - Kansas - Texas) railroad line (Parsons, KS to Oklahoma City) in 1988, which passes through Parsons. The nearest interstate I-44 is located in the southeastern corner of Kansas which borders Missouri and is roughly 50 miles from the City of Parsons.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Despite being the second largest city in southeastern Kansas, with an estimated population of 11,237 in 2006, Parsons is a rural area. The population has gradually declined since 1990 when the population was 14,031. Recent events contributed to population and economic decline. In 2003, an F3 tornado went through the center of Parsons, damaging 800 hundred homes, 120 businesses, and hundreds of vehicles. In 2005, the United State Department of Defense put the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant located in Parsons on the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) list and it is now closed. The Union Pacific Railroad also relocated their corporate offices, removing 400 jobs from the local economy. An estimated 1,000 residents left Parsons between 1990 and 1999. Parsons however, has been experiencing recent growth within the last few years with the addition of several businesses that have located near the bypass has stimulated the local economy and lowered the unemployment rate in 2007 to 4%, which was below the national rate of 4.6%.
There are two museums and an extensive park system in Parsons. The downtown was recently rebuilt, and now offers new retail options and hosts a variety of events that attract local residents as well as visitors. Parsons employment base is highly concentrated in government, service, manufacturing, and retail trade industries with a total of 10,725 jobs in 2006.
Parsons is showing signs of recovery and growth. Parsons had an job growth rate of 85% between 1997 and 2007 (3,789 to 7,020 jobs), which is higher than the state of Kansas (5%) or the decline in Labette county (-3%). Despite a decrease in business sales, other economic indicators such as per capita income and property values have increased from 1999 to 2006.
The $27.5 million (2004$) Parsons bypass, completed in 2004, was constructed to improve safety in the downtown area, reduce congestion, and stimulate economic growth (both industrial and tourism-related). Before the bypass, freight trucks traveling East and West via US 400 passed through the downtown, causing safety concerns, especially because the main street was adjacent to a Middle School. Freight traffic from several of Parsons industrial parks also travelled through the city's central business district, posing danger to pedestrians, causing congestion, and increasing maintenance costs for streets not designed to handle such traffic. Before the bypass, it was difficult to transport goods from industrial parks to the highway because of congestion. Accordingly, a request was made to KDOT for a bypass in order to reduce the congestion and improve access to U.S. 400.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Interviews with several local business leaders helped to understand their view of the benefit of the bypass to their businesses. One trucking company stated that the bypass saved them about 10 minutes per trailer, saving the company an estimated $1,500 per day. An industrial manufacturing company cited time savings and convenience as the principal reasons for expanding their facility near the bypass. A cabinet manufacturer mentioned that a delivery trip to Wichita that previously took three hours now takes 2.5 hours, has reduced shipping costs which is important given the new trucker in-service rules.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The removal of commercial traffic from downtown led to a resurgence in economic activity. In 2006, Parsons was named a Great American Main Street Award winner by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for its successful efforts in revitalizing its downtown area through historic preservation. Parsons was one of only five cities to receive the 2006 award. The minimal loss of local businesses has been offset by new business that has located north of Parsons near the bypass, creating a cluster of business activity and development on land previously devoted to agriculture.
In 2007, neighboring Coffeyville had a major flood which redirected travelers to Parsons. However, since the flood, the number of hotel visitors has not declined which has been attributed to the increase in business activity and commerce according to the tourism department for the City of Parsons. Hotel tax collections have increased 25% since 2008 indicating that visitors are increasingly choosing Parsons as their destination. Hotels in the area are increasing their focus on the traveling customer and revenues have increased by 22%.
New development has quickly concentrated around the bypass because of its ease of access and time savings. Several businesses have located in Parsons as a direct result of the bypass. The types of businesses that have located to the bypass area include manufacturing, medical, industrial, retail, transportation, financial and hospitality.
The average annual net job gain before construction (1999) was 126 jobs per year. After construction (2004), the average annual net job gain was 418 jobs per year. Overall, the number of jobs added in Parsons due to the bypass is estimated to be 1,400.
The devastating effects of the tornado through the center of Parsons and the closure of the Army Munitions plant noticeably affected the local economy and likely attenuated the economic impacts of the bypass. The redevelopment and re-vitalization of the downtown area can be credited with attracting additional retail activity and tourism from the regional area. The city provided development incentives to encourage manufacturers to locate near the US 400 and US-59 interchange.
City of Parsons
City of Parsons
Chamber of Commerce
Case Study Developed by Economic Development Research Group, Inc.