Former governor calls for transportation investment

Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves conducted a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Lied Center. Graves also spoke Thursday night in the Anderson Chandler Lecture Series sponsored by the Kansas University School of Business.

Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves conducted a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Lied Center. Graves also spoke Thursday night in the Anderson Chandler Lecture Series sponsored by the Kansas University School of Business.

February 27, 2009


Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves called for more state and national investment in transportation infrastructure Thursday.

Graves, now the president and CEO of American Trucking Associations, made the comments during the 13th Kansas University School of Business Anderson Chandler Lecture at the Lied Center.

He said state leaders should consider mirroring his efforts in office, when he worked with legislative leaders to create a 10-year, $13.6 billion comprehensive transportation plan.

He called for similar action on the national level, but acknowledged Thursday that many issues stand in the way, including an economic recession, struggling financial institutions, health care reform and many others.

That does not take away from the need of aid for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, he said. He detailed a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers that mostly gave grades of Ds and Cs to the nation’s infrastructure.

Roads got a D-, transit got a D and bridges earned a C.

“All the things we take for granted that support the quality of life we enjoy — the things our parents and grandparents helped pay for and build — are crumbling under our watch,” he said.

The trucking industry has been dealing with difficult times, as many of the members of Graves’ national trade and safety organization have reported, beginning with skyrocketing fuel prices last year.

“We quickly discovered we’d rather have high fuel prices with freight to move than low fuel prices with no freight to move,” Graves said in a news conference before his speech.

He said the stimulus package would help improve transportation, and that his association was pleased to see the focus and commitment to improving infrastructure in the bill.

That’s not the only answer, though. “The overall answer is we’re not in good shape,” he said. “We are nevertheless a growing country” that will require more infrastructure to keep up with the demand.

Also, at the press conference, he offered some comments on the current state fiscal crisis, praising the governor and the Legislature for working together to solve a recent standoff.

When asked to assess his performance as governor, he said the state raised some taxes, cut where it could and shifted some money around in other places. He recalled a particularly tough decision to stop some state transfers to local governments. “We got through it,” he said.


Alia Ahmed 9 years, 3 months ago


I respectfully disagree. We all use the highways and truckers earn money, pay taxes and help our economy by spending the income they earn. Those workers who will do the highway construction also earn money, pay taxes and spend the income they earn.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

We need to move our transit on to rails

You are Okay, it was just a dream, a bad dream.

oldnavycdr 9 years, 3 months ago

I don't know any trucks out there just rolling around to have a good time or cruising Mass Ave out of boredom. It seems to me that trucks are on the road because consumers want and need the goods they move. And unless you have a rail siding at your house, your school, or next to your grocery store, trains just aren't going to get it there. Nice theory, but it doesn't work.

Poon 9 years, 3 months ago

Driving from Lawrence to Ottawa on US 59 offers a wonderful scene that can make us proud to be Americans and proud of the progress of mankind. As one enters Franklin County, a new highway grade rises on the horizon beneath large equipment. There is something so beautiful, so pleasing about seeing these wondrous machinces creating a new roadbed. And that is not all. Beatiful new bridges span the branches of Tauy Creek. New four lane bridges built to the highest standards.

What a pleasure it will be, getting to drive between Lawrence and Ottawa on a newer, safer highway built for the convenience of all Americans. There is no place for pessimism as the new highway is certain to bring new jobs, new development, all leading to a higher standard of living throughout the region.

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 3 months ago

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Poon 9 years, 3 months ago

There is more good news concerning the widening of US 59. It is hoped that someday the South Lawrence Trafficway will be completed providing a direct link between US 59 and the Smart Corridor (K-10). Someday, the Smart Corridor may be further improved, providing the optimal connection between KU and the Technology and Research oriented businesses of Johnson County.

Do not mistakenly believe that US 59 will just connect Lawrence and Ottawa. This regional parkway will connect to US 169 providing a direct link to Tulsa and points south. This new highway, built to the ever increasing modern standards, coupled with the new Intermodal at Gardner will make northeast Kansas transportation corridor of which all Americans can be proud.

Lawrence and Ottawa are not the only places that will benefit. They are however, fortunate to be in the center of this new, regional transportation-oriented enterprise.

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 3 months ago

You swim in the same pool JackRipper. Keep treading.

Fort_Aubrey 9 years, 3 months ago

Yea Loggie. We all occasional read your drivel. Enough said. Keep your wetsuit on and snark away...

Jim Williamson 9 years, 3 months ago

Did Bill talk about how he pretty much ran the family trucking business into the ground before getting into politics?

Brandon_of_ATA 9 years, 3 months ago

Our need for improved highway infrastructure is undeniable. In addition to threatening our nation’s productivity, congestion annually costs the U.S. economy $78 billion in the form of 4.2 billion “lost hours” and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel, says the Texas Traffic Institute. All drivers can benefit from eliminating these inefficiencies.

The American Trucking Associations supports an increase in the federal fuel tax as long as the revenue is dedicated for infrastructure. A fuel tax is the least expensive, most efficient source of highway funding available today. Alternative pricing schemes waste large amounts of funds just on administrative costs. The less the cost of collection, the more that actually goes toward transportation infrastructure.

The trucking industry pays a significantly higher tax on diesel than is collected from gasoline. Also, trucks have to use more fuel to travel the same distance so they ultimately pay four times as much on top of the tax differential as other drivers.

labmonkey 9 years, 3 months ago

Bill for Senate in 2010 so we have a good choice. Right now it looks like right-wing moron vs. Kathy, neither good for Kansas.


You stated you do not believe in God in the past, so quit the disingenious "May God Bless" comments at the end of your misguided posts... it makes you look like even more of the stoner moron you are.

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