Archive for Monday, November 24, 2008

State urged to proceed with caution on road plan

With 10-year transportation plan nearing completion, opportunity to create new jobs is debated

November 24, 2008


— Transportation officials have started to make the case to state legislators that increased highway spending will help the economy.

And while that message may appeal to lawmakers who are facing a tight budget when the legislative session starts in January, there are some urging caution.

“Transportation funding does not equal economic growth,” said Alan Cobb, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Kansas.

If it did, Kansas would be a financial superpower because the state spends billions of dollars to have one of the best highway systems in the country, Cobb argues.

The debate comes at a time when policymakers are considering whether to embark on another massive transportation plan since the current $13 billion, 10-year plan is nearing completion. Some have argued that more national and local highway funding would jolt the economy back to life.

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller recently unveiled a new study conducted for the agency that examined the economic impact of five major highway projects in Kansas.

Not surprisingly, the study concluded $231 million worth of road projects produced 51,000 jobs and $6.1 billion in additional economic value in 2006 alone.

The projects studied included:

• Interchange improvements at the Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County, which has helped spur the Village West development.

• Kansas Highway 96 northeast Wichita bypass.

• U.S. Highway 400 Parsons bypass.

• Interstate 435 and Nall interchange in Johnson County.

• Interstate 70 and Commerce Parkway interchange in Hays.

While transportation officials say job growth associated with the economic development around those projects has been great, others argue it is impossible to determine whether all those jobs were due to the improvements.

Maybe it would have been better to spend the funds for the Parsons bypass on some other, perhaps worthier project, Cobb suggested.

“I’m not sure life would have been worse going through a few stoplights,” he said.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce, however, has weighed in, saying more should be done to ensure that road projects are based on economic development. But the chamber also has asked lawmakers to take it slow when it comes to considering a new transportation plan.

Rather than develop a new 10-year plan, the chamber has taken the position that it might be better to focus more on basic maintenance until the federal government passes a stimulus package that includes funding for infrastructure, and the state’s financial condition improves.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

“I’m not sure life would have been worse going through a few stoplights,” he said.--------------------------Many poster on this forum would beg to differ.

johngalt 9 years, 5 months ago

Taking money from us and giving it to road contractors doesn't created economic growth.

Tony Kisner 9 years, 5 months ago

"Transportation officials have started to make the case to state legislators that increased highway spending will help the economy."This is a true statement, it is just a question of macro or micro economy. Sounds like Deb buddies can't afford to take her to lunch at the really nice places in Topeka any more.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

Government spending only helps the economy if it fills an actual need, or helps private industry fill an actual need. Sometimes roads can do that, but other times they are nothing but pork-barrel spending for well-connected construction companies. Sure, the motoring public and truck drivers may find a new road more pleasing to drive on, but if it doesn't get them to their destination any more effectively than the old road, then it hasn't helped the economy one whit. It accomplished nothing but the redistribution of wealth to those who all already wealthy.

Janet Lowther 9 years, 5 months ago

'“I’m not sure life would have been worse going through a few stoplights,” he said.'At least they didn't replace 'em with roundabouts!

QMDad 9 years, 5 months ago

It is a shame that we so often fall for the political bait of the last couple of decades that public ownership of shared assets is a bad thing – “socialism,” says Joe-the-plumber. Our highways and local roads are very similar the utilities we all uses every day. The big difference being we are used to continuous rate increases charged by public and private utilities required to maintain and expand their service, but with roads we wish to cry “pork-barrel” when it is pointed out that flat gas tax rates are inadequate to fund our system. Give me a strong public school system, a great transportation system, and cherished parks and I’ll pay my share…

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Repair/rehab existing resources creates economic growth without adding more miles thus new expenses to the tax bills.Economic growth is putting money in pockets... take care of what we have.Don't add more miles or new bridges unless user fees pick up the cost such as a KTA project.

Boston_Corbett 9 years, 5 months ago

How ironic.Alan Cobb's actual employer, the Koch's, were the leaders calling for a state road program that dumped taxes from all over the state into Wichita when the K-96 expressway in Wichita was constructed close to their headquarters, allowing the private Koch Oil firm to benefit from lots of real estate holdings that now comprise the North Rock Road area.But now they have theirs.....That being said, infrastructure construction is a good idea in these kinds of economic times.

QMDad 9 years, 5 months ago

Ahh, maintain the status quo and if you can afford better because you have money in your pocket, well that’s the American Dream right? Privatization of our infrastructure has been pushed by the exiting administration in Washington for years now. Schools too! Somehow we feel better when the owner is private and their business decisions are made behind closed doors and we simply pay the bill that arrives each month than we do for public policy decisions that are debated, mostly, in the light of day...

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 5 months ago

QMDad,Do you want access to my checking account too? How about some room at "our" house?

QMDad 9 years, 5 months ago

STRStraight:That you Joe? And, for the record, I prefer only to share my roads and schools with fellow taxpayers. Oh, and a strong defense (I’d hate to lose my roads and schools to pirates).

johngalt 9 years, 5 months ago

"This is exactly what creates economic growth."How???? Shifting money from one pocket to another is NOT economic growth. Try econ 101.

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