Budget cuts are putting the brakes on a regional study to map out the long-term transportation needs of Douglas and four nearby counties in northeast Kansas.
The Kansas Department of Transportation announced Tuesday morning that it would halt work on its Five County Regional Transportation Study, now that Gov. Mark Parkinson has decided to cut $50 million from the state highway fund. The move is part of $259 million in cuts that Parkinson announced Monday to balance the state budget amid mounting shortfalls in revenue.
So far this year, the state has moved to cut $1 billion from what had been a $6 billion budget.
At KDOT, the latest cuts will mean “elimination of highway preservation projects, such as resurfacings, and important equipment purchases,” the department said.
Cuts to a maintenance program will save the state $25 million this year. Plans to buy dump trucks, tractors, mowers and other equipment will be cut by 50 percent.
“Cutting projects will impact jobs, not only of contractors but of suppliers,” said Deb Miller, the state’s secretary of transportation, in a statement. “It will also eliminate the spinoff spending that happens in communities during construction. We’re going to do a lot fewer maintenance jobs, and that will result in rougher roads and more vehicle maintenance.”
KDOT launched the transportation study a year ago. It was to cost $1 million in its initial phase, covering Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties.
The study’s three goals have been to assess the different kinds of transportation needs in the region, then prioritize them and develop strategies to pay for them.
Study partners include the counties and cities in the area, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metro Planning Commission, KDOT, Kansas Turnpike Authority and Mid-America Regional Council.
KDOT’s highway fund has lost $229 million to such revenue adjustments since January, KDOT said. Twice since midsummer KDOT has had to cut projects.
“These reductions will have long-term fiscal consequences that will require additional spending in future fiscal years to return the system to good condition,” Miller said.