Budget problems have driven state highway projects into the ditch.
Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller on Wednesday announced that 95 road projects worth $209 million would be delayed for two months or more.
"We are operating in a time of extreme financial uncertainty, and it would be irresponsible for us to begin work on projects without knowing whether we will be able to pay for them," Miller said.
Miller said KDOT is facing potential shortfalls in federal and state funds. Because of that, she said, the department was suspending construction lettings - when bids are submitted by contractors and opened by KDOT - for two months on most projects.
But the delay could last longer.
"We will continue to evaluate our financial situation to determine whether we can afford to let additional scheduled projects," she said.
Several big-ticket items have been put on hold, including widening Kansas Highway 61 in Reno and McPherson counties, estimated to cost $96 million, and U.S. 169 in Montgomery County, a $58 million project.
But escaping postponement was the $27 million expansion of U.S. 59 in Franklin County, which is already under way and funded mostly with federal dollars.
The squeeze on highway projects comes as both state and federal revenue sources are decreasing amid a nationwide economic downturn.
Miller said KDOT will receive about $50 million less in sales tax, motor fuels tax and vehicle registration fees than was previously projected. On the federal level, a shortfall in the highway trust fund could reduce revenues to KDOT by $160 million in the next fiscal year.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are discussing whether to put together another 10-year transportation program because the present one expires next year.
"We're trying to find ways to continue the job the state has done," said Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, chairman of a special committee studying transportation funding.