On a day when the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announced preliminary engineering for thirteen infrastructure projects across the state, Gov. Sam Brownback and Transportation Secretary Mike King toured three of the announced sites, stopping in Greensburg for lunch and a tour of the Big Well Museum.
KDOT announced the projects on Tuesday morning. The list includes a variety of roads and bridge projects across the state.
“Kansas businesses won’t remain competitive in the future is we don’t have a highway system that allows for efficiency and growth. These projects will help provide the kind of infrastructure that gives our state an economic edge,” said Brownback in an official press release.
Projects include a 54th Street-to-U.S. 24 expansion in Topeka, safety improvements to the U.S. 36/U.S. 81 interchange, a four-lane expansion in Crawford County and an I-235/I-135/K-254 interchange in Wichita.
“These are projects that we have identified through our local consults as projects that have risen to the top of the list of infrastructure needs,” said King. “It’s a start. We want the pipeline full all the way from start-to-finish. From projects that are at their end, to projects, like these thirteen, in the earliest stages.”
Preliminary engineering is part of pre-construction planning when studies and right-of-way work begins.
Three southwest Kansas projects were included on the list including a 5-mile addition to the four-lane expansion of U.S. 54 from Liberal to the Meade Co. line and a passing lanes study on U.S. 50 between Dodge City and the Ford/Edwards Co. line along with intersection improvements in Spearville.
Brownback and King, along with a number of region and statewide KDOT officials organized the three-stop tour to coincide with announcement the list.
In the morning they were in Overland Park announcing the continued planning for the expansion from Indian Creek to 103rd Street, then traveled to Atkins Municipal Airport in Pittsburg before continuing on to Spearville to speak about interchange improvements.
The final leg of their trip brought them through Greensburg and Kiowa County, where the governor stopped for lunch at the Green Bean Coffee Co. before making a brief detour to visit The Big Well Museum.
“We were driving right past it so we wanted to stop and spend a few minutes here,” said King. “Lunch was fantastic, I highly recommend the ham and cheese.”
King spoke about the direction of road improvements in the southwest, noting that different regions of the state have different types of needs.
“I think transportation [in Kansas] as a whole is a changing dichotomy,” he said. “The northeast part of the state is in expansion. The rest of the state is in a ‘maintain and safety’ mode. It may not be the volume of traffic that warrants a change to two or three lanes, but safety is the main concerns. We want people, as they leave the roadway, to correct safely and be able to reenter the roadway safely as well.”
Page 2 of 2 - Driving west towards Ford County, King and Brownback drove across U.S. 183, which was, in 1967, the last U.S. highway to be paved. King was asked out the future of transportation, and what transportation might look like to future Kansans.
“A longtime ago, in regards to transportation, if you were on a waterway you had a community,” said King. “Then we went to the railroads. Then we went to the state highway system and then the federal highway system. It’s going to be interesting to see what our next mode of transportation is going to be. There will be another one, but the question is, what will it be and what will it look like?”