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Archive for Monday, September 28, 2009

Highway advocates push $10 billion transportation plan

Money could be allocated to help construct the South Lawrence Trafficway if a bill makes its way through Washington.

September 28, 2009

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KDOT Secretary Deb Miller

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller talks about the South Lawrence Trafficway project following a news conference by highway interests pushing for a new comprehensive transportation program. Enlarge video

— What has become a once-a-decade effort started Monday, as highway advocates pushed for a new transportation plan that could cost upwards of $10 billion and increase motor fuels taxes.

State officials and special interest groups gathered in the Senate chamber to talk about transportation needs for the coming decade.

“We can’t afford, in my opinion, to allow the progress that has been made, to deteriorate,” said Mary Turkington, who is co-chair of Economic Lifelines, a coalition of businesses that supports increased highway funding.

The transportation plan forces came armed with a report from The Transportation Information Project, or TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based highway advocacy group.

The report said Kansas faces a $6.4 billion funding gap over 10 years to take care of critical road needs, such as deteriorating bridges, increased traffic and safety hazards.

Combined with the state’s annual expenditure of approximately $375 million per year for road maintenance and repairs, the total 10-year price tag would top $10 billion.

Among the bridges listed in the TRIP report with the lowest rating was U.S. Highway 40, or Sixth Street, in Lawrence where it goes over McDonald Drive and Iowa Street. The bridge handles nearly 30,000 vehicles per day and was built in 1956.

KDOT officials say the bridge is listed as functionally obsolete because it doesn’t have shoulders. But the structure is sound and safe for vehicles, they said.

The state’s most recent 10-year, $13 billion comprehensive transportation program was approved in 1999 and expired earlier this year.

Officials said the traditional ways to raise the kind of money needed for a new plan would be through borrowing and taxes.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he didn’t think the Legislature would approve a general tax increase, but possibly would consider user fees, such as motor fuels tax and vehicle registration. The current state gasoline tax is 24 cents per gallon.

Morris said a transportation plan would provide jobs and help develop the economy. He vowed to try to get a new plan approved when the Legislature starts the 2010 session in January.

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said any long-range plan could include funding for the South Lawrence Trafficway, which is currently being challenged in federal court by environmentalists who say the project would harm the Baker Wetlands.

“Should this alignment survive that legal challenge, I don’t think there is any question it will be on the long list of projects that are highly sought after in a new transportation program. And then, whether or not the South Lawrence Trafficway is included in the bill will probably depend on just how big the program is,” she said.

Comments

gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

Spain just did a high-speed project for $22 million per mile and the high cost of that was questioned. I'd want to see a detailed accounting of that $70 million per mile. Four lanes of Interstate highway doesn't cost anywhere near that much, unless the land cost is very high, and that's a lot more material, space, and labor than parallel high speed rail needs.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

On top of it this state doesn't have money for drugs for the poor and down and out but we can come up with new taxes, special financing, more lies to fund the highways?! It is morally reprehensible.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

We aren't talking about repairing which I'm all for when repairs are needed but these projects are about building and expanding more! 59 is a perfect example of a road that yes I drive on but in no way can see how a four lane interstate style road was a reasonable solution to a little inconvenience now and then. It is absurd especially as we enter peak oil times. The shoulder project is just an example of how something that is a non issue is turned into one. Who is this group in DC coming up with all this bull? I'd think the first thing we would want is a story on who is behind all this. I drive Kansas roads, not just Lawrence and honestly can't say I can think of anywhere where the the solution is an other major road project. It is pork plain and simple and if you think calling what they are suggesting as "repairs" then it is more of the same.

I prefer to take the old highways by the way. I find the higher speeds, idiots on cellphones and whatever else, and extremely poor driving skills more of a risk then a road without shoulders that doesn't create the illusion of safety.

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arizonajh 4 years, 6 months ago

Ah JR, if you read the story you would see that it was "among" those recieving the lowest rating. It never said it was the "worst" just a local example of the myriad of problems that exist throughout the state and this is a STATE not a Lawrence budget. The story doesn't even say it is the worst in Lawrence. I'm sure nothing has changed in the 53 years since it was built that might suggest that shoulders are trully needed. Funny you admit you drive the roads but their construction, repair and updating are "pork" to you. BTW I-35W was deemed structurally sound untill the day it collapsed.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Ah arizonajh, if you saw the story you'd realize the concern is it doesn't have shoulders. Some how we have managed for at least 30 years to manage without it having shoulders. Again, if that is the worse we are dealing with then anything else must be a non-issue created to keep the construction company pork coming.

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arizonajh 4 years, 6 months ago

JackRipper Are you trained to know if a bridge is sound? The people of Minneapolis didn't see any crisis with the I-35W bridge on July 31st, 2007 even though it had been rated as "structurally deficient", on August 1, 2007 13 people were dead and 145 were injured from it's collapse. It's often what you don't see "driving the roads" thats the problem.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Plus, who the hell is this group in DC? Since when did Kansans start dancing for obscure groups in DC telling us what we need to do? Driving the roads in Kansas it is hard to see any crises and if the 6th street "bridge" is the worse I rest my case!

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

We'd better get to work on the rail now before we become a third world country after our greed plays out. As Seamus said, peak oil is a factor and before going on about us not running out of oil and they are finding new stuff, look into what the theory of peak oil says. It is not about running out of oil but the demand and supply and the cost of recovering these new oil finds will be changing the amount of oil we will have for further happy motoring. As a nation and Lawrence in particular considering it is supposedly an educated population it is utterly amazing people refuse to consider what is very factually based, oil will not be cheaply available soon. Why do think every time there is just the slightest uptick in economic recovery oil prices start shooting up? This recession is probably the best thing for us right now to reconsider where we put scarce dollars. Plus the dollars place in the world could be changing dramatically and we are unable to buy oil or other imported resources like we did in the past. Wake up America!

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arizonajh 4 years, 6 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says… Where in the world did you get $70 million per mile?

Sorry for not responding yesterday but the comments section of the article (or the banner ads) wasn't coming up after I posted. The numbers are from the light rail that I am helping design now in Phoenix. That is just design and construction costs, that does not include the purchase of the land to build it on. We are building in the middle of existing roads which is cheaper if you're talking about an all new alignment it would skyrocket the price and the 404 (environmental) permitting will be a nightmare!

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Danimal 4 years, 6 months ago

We need more roads in America. We generally need to overhaul all of our infrastructure. It sickens me that our citizens have no problem with giving tens of billions to those crooks on Wall Street, but so many of us are opposed to projects that will actually benefit all of us and genuinely stimulate our economy instead of just lining the pockets of a privileged few.

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gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

Where in the world did you get $70 million per mile?

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arizonajh 4 years, 6 months ago

A rail system from Manhattan to Independence would cost about 70 million a mile to design and build. That makes it about 9 and a half billion right there plus you would still have buy the right of way for the 130 miles. That leaves no money for roads or bridges. Ask the people in Minneapolis what happens when you ignore your infrastructure. Unless they bring out those flying cars they promised us in the 50's we're still going to need the roads. As wonderful of an idea as it sounds you can't give 100% of the funds to support 3 to 5% of the traveling public.

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toe 4 years, 6 months ago

Kansas always has had only one state program-roads. This has got us nowhere. Time to spend money in other places.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Kansas has money for roads but not for education?

More gas taxes means people will be forced to drive less soooo why build new highways?

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Kansas cannot afford to take care of what it has.

Therefore why build more?

So taxes can be further increased? After all more and more maintenance is required for more and more roads.

Make all new highways toll roads or no more new roads. Kansas is not that crowded.

Medicare Insurance for All will create new long term employment for Kansas. New roads will create new long term debt for Kansas./

  • JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS

  • Why use Medicare? It eliminates reinventing the wheel therefore saves a big bundle of money and time = efficient use of existing resources.

  • Medicare is in place therefore it is ready to roll which is convenient.

  • The USA needs to STOP being be the most expensive insurance/health care of the industrialized nations if americans want jobs back.

  • HR 676 Medicare for All insurance coverage is key to creating new wealth for america.

  • The most expensive health insurance in the world is not the answer for keeping business costs down and keeping our cost of living somewhat in check.

The nations ability to attract or develop new industry is at stake. We're talking jobs jobs jobs. We’re talking about the need for a new strong economy for 8 million or more jobs lost. Perhaps as many as 15 million new jobs that cannot be outsourced.

The fact is there are plenty of roads in the USA and Kansas to get us where we need to be.

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remember_username 4 years, 6 months ago

gccs14r - there is a good reason. You can't use freight track for commuter trains running at commuter speeds. Thus, you'll need to lay new track at great expense with money that is not available. I agree something must be done to reduce automobile commuting but I don't think light rail west to Manhattan is the answer.

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gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

It's hard to ride something that doesn't exist.

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Pilgrim2 4 years, 6 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

There is no good reason not to have a commuter rail corridor from Manhattan to Independence, MO.


Sure there is. It's called lack of ridership.

Oh, that's right, I forgot. You haven't learned that lesson from the empTy yet.

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gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

$10 billion spent on passenger rail would fix a heck of a lot more transportation issues in this state than $10 billon spent on asphalt would. There is no good reason not to have a commuter rail corridor from Manhattan to Independence, MO.

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ralphralph 4 years, 6 months ago

Nobody kicks-back like highway contractors kick-back.

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bobberboy 4 years, 6 months ago

P.S. Why is it that KDOT has all the money in the world to spend and other government programs are going bust ?!!

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bobberboy 4 years, 6 months ago

Kansas spends way too much money on highways !!

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Seamus 4 years, 6 months ago

I don't know how this could be simpler: we aren't going to be driving as much as we are now in 20 years. The effects of Peak Oil and the Export Land Model theories as well as our general economic problems will not allow us to continue importing 70% of the oil we consume for our easy-motoring lifestyle. We ought not be wasting another dime on new road projects and simply maintain the stuff we already have while we make other plans. The SLT is nothing more than pork-- if the commute through Lawrence to your westside McMansion is so arduous, why don't you live in JoCo with the rest of your like-minded people?

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mwagner8 4 years, 6 months ago

"Officials said the traditional ways to raise the kind of money needed for a new plan would be through borrowing and taxes."

Raising money by borrowing isn't raising money. Shows you what these people understand about money. Just spend what you don't have and plan on getting it later, much later...

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Jimo 4 years, 6 months ago

“We can’t afford, in my opinion, to allow the progress that has been made, to deteriorate,” said Mary Turkington.

Translation: the more you spend, the more you have to increase your spending. Next stop: bankruptcy.

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gsxr600 4 years, 6 months ago

Finally, a "see related story" to a random poll

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grimpeur 4 years, 6 months ago

KDOT's total budget is already well over a billion dollars per year. Stimulus included another $350M. But we only get $357M in facilities? Congress recently added $8B to the emergency hwy fund. How's that Safe Routes to School program working out for Lawrence? Anybody catch just how much non-automobile-related spending these special interests are proposing?

Any program that focus only on cars, blindly encouraging the use of most expensive, subsidized, and wasteful form of transportation in history to the exclusion of all other modes, is a non-starter. Push this one off the lot. We need modern solutions, not more encouragement of laziness, selfishness, and bad single-occupancy commuting habits.

Gas tax bump. Yes. Reg tax bump. Yes. Transportation Enhancement. Yes. More car traffic. No.

Thanks, though.

Let's take a look at transportation modes that are more cost-effective.

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