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Archive for Saturday, April 28, 2001

KDOT halts 15 highway projects

Budget gap yields new priorities

April 28, 2001

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— Legislators learned Friday that 15 highway projects have been halted because of the state's financial problems.

While the Legislature continues to try to close a $205 million gap between expected revenues and spending already approved for the state's 2002 fiscal year, which begins July 1, the Kansas Department of Transportation has taken its own steps to trim spending.

KDOT stopped planning and other preliminary work on 15 projects that are not part of its current comprehensive highway program but were considered top priorities if the other projects proved less expensive than anticipated, or the state received more money than expected.

A letter listing those projects became public Friday. It was from Secretary Dean Carlson to Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Carlson already has told legislators that new, lower estimates have left a $274 million gap between expected revenues and the cost of project commitments. The House plans to trim $4.5 million from the agency's operating budget.

"We will be making additional cuts, in projects that we've included in the program, once we know what the final numbers are," Carlson told reporters.

Rep. Jeff Peterson, R-Manhattan, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the KDOT budget, said Carlson's actions are reasonable. However, he said he expects revenue estimates to change over the program's lifetime and predicted that the state will receive more federal highway funds than expected.

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