U.S. Route 81 in Kansas Information

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U.S. Route 81 marker

U.S. Route 81
Route information
Maintained by KDOT
Major junctions
South end US-81 at Oklahoma state line
North end US 81 at Nebraska state line
Counties Sumner, Sedgwick, Harvey, McPherson, Saline, Ottawa, Cloud, Republic
Highway system
  • Kansas State Highway System
K-80 K-82

U.S. Route 81 (US-81) is a part of the U.S. Highway System that travels from Fort Worth, Texas to the Pembina–Emerson Border Crossing near Pembina, North Dakota. In the U.S. state of Kansas, US-81 is a main north–south highway central part of the state. Wichita is the only metropolitan area US-81 serves in the state but the highway does serve several other larger towns in Kansas such as (from south to north) Wellington and Concordia.

Route description

US-81 at US-166's western terminus

Nearly all of US-81 in Kansas is either freeway or expressway. The route enters Kansas as a two-lane near Caldwell. From South Haven to Wichita it closely parallels Interstate 35, which is also known as the Kansas Turnpike in that area. After South Haven, the only town of any significance along US 81 until Wichita is Wellington, which is just west of the Turnpike along U.S. Route 160.

US-81 concurrent with I-135 and K-15

At Wichita, US-81 joins Interstate 135. The two highways remain joined until Salina, with I-135's mile markers taking precedence. Interstate 135 ends at Interstate 70 but US-81 continues as a freeway to Minneapolis, then as an expressway passing through Concordia before exiting the state north of Belleville.


US-81 at the north end of I-135 at I-70

The alignment of US-81 from Wichita to Salina prior to the completion Interstate 135 is fully intact. The prior alignment ran from where current US-81 breaks off for Interstate 135 at 47th street, north through Wichita along Broadway street. Old US-81 roughly parallels Interstate 135 to Newton. Old US-81 follows current K-15 through Newton between an interchange with US-50 and Hesston Road, where old US-81 breaks northwest onto Hesston road. Old US-81 then travels through the small Kansas towns of Hesston, Moundridge, and Elyria, before turning to the north, and going through the town of McPherson as Main street. North of McPherson, old US-81 continues to Lindsborg, where it follows current K-4 until an interchange with Interstate 135. Old US-81 passes under Interstate 135 and continues to parallel it about 1/2 mile to the east. Old US-81 then travels through Assaria, where it encounters another brief overlap with K-4 and K-104. Old US-81 continues through the city of Salina as Ninth street. North of Salina, Old US-81 encounters brief overlaps with K-143 and K-18. Old US-81 follows K-106 to an interchange with current US-81, where the two alignments are joined back together.

From Salina to the Nebraska state line, the highway is named the Frank Carlson Memorial Highway, in honor of the late Senator Frank Carlson. Senator Carlson was a native of Concordia who represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1951-1969. Before serving in the Senate, he was Governor of Kansas from 1947–1950.

Major intersections

  • Exits listed are I-135 exit numbers.
CountyLocation mi kmExitDestinationsNotes
Sumner Caldwell Township0.0000.000 US-81 southContinuation into Oklahoma
South Haven US-177 southNorthern terminus of US-177
US-166 eastWestern terminus of US-166
US-81 Bus. north (West Balkin Street)
Southern terminus of US-81 Bus.
US-160 westSouthern terminus of US-160 concurrency

US-81 Bus. south (North Washington Avenue)
Northern terminus of US-81 Bus.
US-160 east to I-35 / Kansas TurnpikeNorthern terminus of US-160 concurrency
Belle Plaine Township K-55 east – Belle PlaineWestern terminus of K-55
county line
Belle PlaineSalem
township line
K-53 east to I-35 / Kansas Turnpike – MulvaneWestern terminus of K-53
Sedgwick Wichita I-135 south to I-35 / Kansas TurnpikeSouthern terminus of I-135 concurrency
1C I-235 northSouthern terminus of I-235; I-235 exit 1A southbound, to I-135 north; tri-stack interchange
2Hydraulic Avenue
3A K-15 south (Southeast Boulevard)Southbound exit and northbound entrance; south end of K-15 overlap
3BPawnee Street
4Harry Street
5ALincoln Street
5B US-54 / US-400 (Kellogg Avenue)Signed as exit 6A southbound
6B1st Street North, 2nd Street NorthSigned as exit 6C southbound
7ACentral AvenueSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
7B8th Street North, 9th Street North
813th Street North
921st Street North
10 K-96 east / 29th Street North, Hydraulic AvenueSigned as exits 10A (K-96) and 10B (29th St., Hydraulic) northbound; south end of K-96 overlap
11A K-254 east – El DoradoWestern terminus of K-254; left exit and entrance southbound
11B I-235 south / K-96 west – HutchinsonNorth end of K-96 overlap; I-235 exits 16A-B
1353rd Street North
Park City1461st Street North
township line
1677th Street North
Grant Township1785th Street North
19101st Street North
county line
township line
22125th Street North
Harvey Darlington Township25 K-196 east – Whitewater, El DoradoWestern terminus of K-196
Newton28 CR-576 (SE 36th Street)
30 US-50 west / K-15 north – HutchinsonSouth end of US-50 overlap; north end of K-15 overlap; serves Newton Medical Center; left exit and entrance northbound
31First Street, Broadway Street
33 US-50 east – Peabody, EmporiaNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; north end of US-50 overlap
34 K-15 – North Newton, Abilene
Hesston40Lincoln Boulevard
McPherson Mound Township46 K-260 west – MoundridgeCounterclockwise terminus of K-260; serves Mercy Hospital and Moundridge Municipal Airfield
48 K-260 east – MoundridgeClockwise terminus of K-260; serves Mercy Hospital
Lone TreeKing City
township line
54 CR-445 (Comanche Road) / CR-319 (18th Avenue)
King City Township58
US-81 Bus. / K-61 – McPherson, Hutchinson
US-56 / US-81 Bus. – McPherson, Marion
McPherson Township63Mohawk RoadOpened 2017
New Gottland Township65 CR-448 (Pawnee Road)
Rest Area, located in the median; left exits and entrances
Smoky Hill Township72 CR-429 (Smoky Valley Road) – Lindsborg, Roxbury
Saline Smoky View Township78 K-4 west – Bridgeport, LindsborgSouth end of K-4 overlap; former US-81
82 K-4 east (Assaria Road) / Falun RoadNorth end of K-4 overlap
Smolan Township86 K-104 east (Mentor Road) / Smolan RoadWestern terminus of K-104
Salina88Water Well Road
89Schilling Road
90Magnolia Road
92Crawford Street
93 K-140 west (State Street)Eastern terminus of K-140
95 A-B I-70 / US-40 / I-135 endsNorthern terminus of I-135 concurrency; northern terminus of I-135; I-70 exit 250 A-B; I-135 exit 95 A-B; cloverleaf interchange
Elm Creek Township K-143 southNorthern terminus of K-143; interchange
Ottawa Bennington Township K-18Interchange
Concord Township K-106Interchange
Logan Township K-41 westEastern terminus of K-41
Cloud Meredith Township US-24
Concordia K-9
Republic Lincoln Township K-148
Belleville US-36Interchange
Liberty Township US 81 northContinuation into Nebraska
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


U.S. Route 81
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