Even in Washington, D.C., city leaders can't escape the topic of Lawrence's deteriorating streets.
In fact, a Lawrence delegation traveling to Washington to lobby federal legislators plans to make the issue a major topic of conversation.
City commissioners Thursday approved a legislative priority statement that includes a focus on encouraging federal legislators to shore up a federal fund that cities rely upon to address infrastructure needs.
"I think we want to challenge our federal legislators to not retreat from basic infrastructure needs," City Manager David Corliss said. "Their help is very important to this community."
Corliss, Mayor Sue Hack and Vice Mayor Mike Dever will be part of a Lawrence group that will meet with the Kansas congressional delegation in Washington on Monday.
Corliss said the city wants to devote some of the visit to emphasizing the importance of the federal highway fund, which provides billions of dollars each year to state and local governments across the nation for road projects. Federal officials have been warning of a projected $4.3 billion shortfall in the fund. The fund largely is financed by a federal per-gallon tax on gasoline. The gasoline tax has become a less stable source of revenue as consumers have begun conserving gasoline in the wake of rising prices.
The city recently used federal transportation funding to pay for 80 percent of the project to reconstruct Kasold Drive north of Peterson Road. Corliss said many other large road projects - such as rebuilding Kasold Drive between 15th Street and Peterson Road, or revamping parts of Wakarusa Drive - will likely need federal funding to be completed.
State leaders have warned that Kansas may lose $130 million to $150 million in transportation funding if the federal fund is not shored up.
"This could have a large impact on Lawrence," Corliss said.
The city's legislative policy statement highlights two road projects that the city has applied for federal funding: a new interchange at Bob Billings Parkway and the South Lawrence Trafficway; and intersection improvements on Kansas Highway 10 and Franklin Road near the East Hills Business Park.
Here are other issues that the city included on its legislative priority statement:
¢ Seeking support to develop a bioscience industry in Lawrence.
"We really need to drive home the idea of how our location and the university put us in what we believe is a really strong position to have the biosciences be a major part of our future," City Commissioner Mike Amyx said.
¢ Continued funding for public transportation, improvements to the Lawrence Municipal Airport, and for housing projects through the federal Community Development Block Program.
¢ New funding for the recently designated Freedom Frontier National Heritage Area, which is designed to highlight the area's Civil War history.
¢ Research and educational funding for Kansas University and Haskell Indian Nations University.
Commissioners approved the legislative statement on a 4-0 vote. Hack was absent from the meeting.
In addition to Hack, Dever and Corliss, several other community leaders will be making the trip, including Lavern Squier, president and chief executive officer of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce; Joan Golden, chamber chairwoman; Becca Booth, chamber director of membership development; Douglas County Commissioner Bob Johnson; Bruce Passman, deputy superintendent of Lawrence public schools; Keith Yehle, director of government relations for KU; and LaVerne Epp with the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority.