Archive for Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Big bucks needed to keep up interstate

June 20, 2006


— Kansas' Interstate system is in good shape but hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements are needed within the next 10 years, according to a report released today.

"Every day the interstate system saves lives, time and money for both residents and visitors to the state," said Frank Moretti, director of policy and research for The Road Information Program, a Washington, D.C. group funded by highway interests.

Moretti said 74 percent of Kansas' 874-mile Interstate system is in good condition. "The challenge is to keep Kansas Interstates in that condition," he said.

By 2016, that will cost $515 million to widen Interstates in the Kansas City, Kan. and Wichita areas.

It also will require reconstructing 150 miles of roads and 220 bridges. No estimate was available for those projects.

"We've built a great system and worked hard to maintain it," said Terry Heidner, director of planning and development for the Kansas Department of Transportation. "We need to continue to be vigilant," he said.

The release of the report and news conference also was seen as an attempt to lay the foundation for another comprehensive transportation plan for Kansas.

The current 10-year, $13.5 billion CTP is set to expire July 1, 2008.

Patrick Hurley, with Economic Lifelines, which lobbies for transportation funding, said his group hears constantly from areas of the state that want road improvements.

"We'll be looking at continuing that sequence," of road plans, he said.


b_asinbeer 11 years, 9 months ago

What's the fuss about (if there is one)...use the ridiculously high tolls that we're paying on I-70 to pay for the upkeep. (Duh!)

greyhawk 11 years, 9 months ago

"World demand for oil will increase by nearly 50% by 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) annual report." : "The US will still be the single largest consumer of petrol, with the EIA predicting it will consume 27.6 million bpd, up from this year's 20.8 million."

cutny 11 years, 9 months ago

What a scam. Looked perfect when I was on it last month. Maybe if they stopped moving the toll gates around, they could make some more money.

DaREEKKU 11 years, 9 months ago

Why not invest in light rail systems as well? Provide more employment for Kansans maybe? Connect us better maybe? Just a suggestion. Any thoughts from anybody?

gccs14r 11 years, 9 months ago

The public Interstate system and the KTA are funded separately. They're talking about the public system. I think for $13 billion we could have a top-notch interurban rail system. Get municipalities to fund local metrorail and we could go a long way toward eliminating our dependence on autos.

We got around just fine by rail in the prewar era. What changed was GM deciding to kill public transportation so that we'd all have to buy cars. The billions we've wasted since then, in infrastructure, manufacturing, and oil usage, are what we used to use for things such as public schools, the arts, and national parks, things that we're now told that we can no longer afford.

Raider 11 years, 9 months ago

asinbeer: The tolls really aren't that ridiculous. Have you ever travelled through Oklahoma? The Indian Nation ran turnpikes really scalp your wallet. It's about $1.25-1.50 every 30 miles and the roads are awful. Be glad of the turnpike we have. It's in great shape compared to others.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

I paid $2 for about 10 miles in Florida ..

gccs14r 11 years, 9 months ago


Having driven through Miami instead, be grateful that you paid the $2. You would have wasted more than that in fuel while idling in traffic.

conservative 11 years, 9 months ago

Light rail isn't a very viable option. Too expensive and too many wouldn't use it. You only have to look to the Local "T" to see that even in heavily liberal Lawrence it's hard to get people to give up their personal vehicles. Better to spend the money on upkeep of the infrastructure.

The high cost of oil is already "fueling" the race for inventing the next generation personal vehicles that aren't as reliant on nonrenewable resources.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

gccs14r .. I didn't mind paying. It's just that I found out later there were alternate routes, but the "directions" I was given did not mention the toll until it was too late. That p*ssed me off - haha.

And yeah, it's better than traffic - usually!

usaschools 11 years, 9 months ago

  1. Make KS toll roads free for those with KS plates
  2. Automate the toll booths to eliminate the jobs program that we call the KTA. There is no reason to have people staff those booths - they suck up huge amounts of money including benefits. Toll booth attendent should NOT be a career path. It is a low-paying job that could be done by a machine (and should be done). If directions are absolutely necessary for imbeciles that can't be bothered by a map, put a computer kiosk by the side of the road that can provide directions.
  3. Eliminate the KTA, the ultimate bureacracy. It would cost less for the state to just maintain the roads and not pay for the big salaries and retirements and benefits of KTA employees.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

Light rail is used all over the freakin world. Why can't the richest nation on earth get a better quote for cost and build the bloody things? I don't buy the excuses, I really don't. I think Americans are in love with their cars. Nothing wrong with self-reliance, but ...

How about an O-bahn system - it's sort of a high-speed system for (good quality) buses. I've used it before and it works really well. Fast and very convenient. They mostly run on LPG as well, so it's environmentally friendly. Check it out:

grimpeur 11 years, 9 months ago


And the way to change that is to provide alternatives before weaning. After all, you can't break the junkie's fix without having methadone already on hand. And when 90+% of the cars during commute hours (n = 350) have only one person in them, and when so much of the driving done in our town is recreational in nature, distilling the needed ridership should be done by gradually increasing gas taxes, by rapidly increasing the gas-guzzler tax, by creating employer incentives to encourage carpooling and transit use, and by bringing CAFE standards up to what's attainable now (partially by including SUVs as the passenger cars they are, and not some made-up light-truck category which sidesteps the standards), by increasing and optimizing transit already in place, by regional coordination of transit systems (the JO, the T, Metro buses and regional light rail), by building park and ride shuttle lots OUTSIDE the city centers (not on west campus, fer gods sake!) and by improving bike and pedestrian facilities in cities.

Better to establish the needed K10 and I-70 rail corridor and metro transit first, then gradually slow the accomodation of our most wasteful and most expensive habits--single-occupancy commuting and <1-mile drives.

All of which is not to say that existing roads shouldn't be maintained. But it will be necessary to establish alternatives to the automobile very soon, and to begin separating motorists' "needs" from "wants." The sooner we start, the cheaper it will be, and the further along and better prepared we'll be when traffic gets bad. And it's not bad yet.

gccs14r 11 years, 9 months ago


Traffic won't appreciably worsen, because fuel isn't getting cheaper and we are hemorrhaging wealth overseas. What will happen is that one day we will run out of gas completely and we'll have not built any alternative. At that point we'll have to build a rail system by pickaxe and mule, just like our great-grandfathers did.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

omb - The city of Adelaide has a population about the same as Kansas City, if not smaller. Yet they've had a rail system since the early 20th century (trams and trains) and the O-Bahn since 1988 ..

It's really about the political will, isn't it? Like I said, Americans prefer their cars. I'm not saying that's bad, but it is a huge factor in the public mindset.

Centrist 11 years, 9 months ago

TOB - If it was up to me, I'd have a rail (or guided busway) system all the way from Topeka to KC, but that isn't really feasible, I guess, due to lack of interest.

I'd like to see at least a light rail system in the KC area. That makes perfect sense to me.

Downtown to the airport - or OP, KS to downtown - think of the business potential all around. Or at least a "loop" system.

Sigmund 11 years, 9 months ago

Kansas doesn't have the population density (people / square foot) to support light rail. Light rail and mass transit in general works great in large densely populated metropolitan cities. LA, NYC, SF, CHI are good examples. Even AMTRAK does pretty good on the east coast and west coast. Otherwise the most comfortable, convenient, and economical means of transportation in the midwest is the automobile. Not likely to change anytime soon.

KsTwister 11 years, 9 months ago

Interstate 70 is a toll road, Nebraska's I-80 is not and they manage a nice interstate road. Just because KDOT is spending major funding on roundabouts is no reason to worry .....right?!!

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 9 months ago

Just say no to any light rail!!! That only makes it easier for the Topeka and KC crowd to come to Lawrence, get hammered, cause problems and then go home. There isn't enough commerce between towns to warrant it anyways. And I don't want to make it easier for people to come here and take our few precious jobs. If you build it, just don't put in a Lawrence stop.

gccs14r 11 years, 9 months ago

The interurban should run from Manhattan to KC. Where in KC for the leg from Lawrence can be debated. Wherever it ends up, whether at the airport, downtown, or at JCCC/Sprint, there should be a local loop that connects all three/four sites there. There could be a spur that runs from downtown out to the sports complex. The system could be expanded from there.

Funny how Lawrence used to have a successful rail system with a much smaller population....

grimpeur 11 years, 9 months ago

Light rail works in and between metro areas. Seattle-Tacoma, St. Louis-Clayton-U. City-Airport, San Fran-Oakland, Balt-DC, KC-Lawrence-Topeka.

Yes, the automobile is convenient and comfortable. Especially when you're out there unnecessarily clogging up the streets, waiting on the freeway, sitting through a couple light cycles, cursing everyone who you think is slowing you down, wasting two hours a day, every day, wasting gas, wasting money. Yes, convenient and comfortable. Maybe these scenarios don't happen to you every day, but in some cities, this is normal. Shall we wait for that day before we begin planning a sensible regional transit system?

Economical? Hardly, when you figure the costs beyond gas, roads, sticker price and taxes. And to the extent that it's practical, it is only so because there is currently no alternative. And as long as we continue to subsidize motorists' sense of entitlement to cheap gas, a parking space within 10 feet of every retail door in town, more driving lanes and parking than is needed, and thus shelter them from the costs they as individuals incur (by shifting the costs to the government), the personal auto will continue to seem economical.

Some of us have no choice--we need our cars for work, at work, during work, to do work. But many of us don't need to use our cars each day. Rather, we WANT to. That's fine. But we must realize that our preference to drive every day--near or far, alone, in big cars--when it's not necessary comes with a very high cost, and that we as a community are realizing that the costs might be too high to continue supporting this lifestyle choice.

Yes, it will cost a lot to get regional transit up to date, but even more if we don't soon, and in no case will it cost as much as continuing to subsidize motorists' love affair with their cars.

gphawk89 11 years, 9 months ago

Ban 18-wheelers! They cause the VAST majority of wear and tear on our interstate highways, which simply were not built to handle that kind of load 24/7. Put freight back on the railways where it belongs. There's my not-too-well-thought-out rant...

gphawk89 11 years, 9 months ago

Light rail: "That only makes it easier for the Topeka and KC crowd to come to Lawrence, get hammered, cause problems and then go home."

I have to agree. Light rail in St. Louis is not much more than a convenient way for the criminal element in downtown and East St. Louis to make their way out to the suburbs. I've used it a few times in the past, but no more. The clientele is just too scary, especially at night.

usaschools 11 years, 9 months ago

Bottom line: Kansas has the ONLY stretch of Toll road on the entire route of I-70 and that is not right. KTA is nothing but an out-of-control bureacracy that should be eliminated. The toll collectors are participants in a public jobs program.

anonimiss 11 years, 9 months ago

I use the Turnpike everyday. I hate paying, hate the construction, hate the on/off ramps. But I hate driving even slower on 24/40. I have an alternative, and so does everyone else. "If you don't like it, than just git out"

grimpeur 11 years, 9 months ago

gphawk89 carefully typed:

"I have to agree. Light rail in St. Louis is not much more than a convenient way for the criminal element in downtown and East St. Louis to make their way out to the suburbs. I've used it a few times in the past, but no more. The clientele is just too scary, especially at night."

Jeezus freekin christ. This is really sad. You must be from St. Charles. "We moved here so we could get AWAY from THEM. So don't bring Metrolink across the river. We just want to drive our cars, anyway. And since we have the city and county of St. Louis paying for roads, 10 hrs/day of car storage, and putting up with us trying to cram more cars into the city, and shutting the I-40 corridor down, much to the distress of everyone in the region, just to accomodate even MORE of our cars with one person in each, why would we invite such undesireables across the river? They're going to steal our plasma TVs and our George Foreman grills and then ride the train back to East St. Louis."

Even your preceding "not-too-well-thought-out rant" made some sense. Not this one, though. Not a bit.

It must suck to live in constant fear.

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