Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If only…

September 30, 2009

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Will money for the South Lawrence Trafficway be included in long-range plans formulated by the Kansas Department of Transportation?

There are a lot of “ifs” involved.

The first “if” cited by KDOT Secretary Deb Miller Monday was the question of whether the 32nd Street alignment of the road will survive a challenge in federal court by those who oppose the SLT on cultural and environmental grounds.

“Should this alignment survive that legal challenge,” Miller said, “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 bill.”

There’s the second “if.” The SLT would be on a “long list of projects.” How it would rank on that list is anyone’s guess.

Another big “if” is found in the continuation of Miller’s quote: “… whether or not the South Lawrence Trafficway is included in the bill will probably depend on just how big the program is.” The fewer the dollars, the greater the competition for funding.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he was dedicated to pushing approval of some kind of highway plan in the 2010 session, but also was uncertain about how it would be funded. It’s unlikely, he said, that legislators would approve a general tax increase for roads, which means funding probably would have to come from user fees, such as vehicle registration fees and gasoline taxes.

In the current economy, large increases in those fees are unlikely to get legislative approval, meaning that potential funding for a long-range transportation plan would be seriously limited. Also keep in mind that “transportation” spending isn’t just about highways any more. A transportation plan also must include rail and air systems and other forms of public transportation.

An advocacy group that called Monday’s press conference on transportation is recommending a 10-year plan with a price tag that could reach $10 billion. Such a large plan would provide many Kansas jobs and complete many needed projects, perhaps even the South Lawrence Trafficway. Unfortunately, the state simply doesn’t have the money to adequately meet all of its current needs in such areas as highways, higher education, public schools and social services.

“If” the state economy and tax revenues start to turn around, more of those needs can be met … but that’s another big “if.”

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

One more big "if." If the local, state and federal governments want to stab Haskell in the back just one last time (until the next time, that is.)

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Those road tax dollars could be spent more effectively than on one local tax increasing road project. More roads cost more money to maintain which is a huge concern for any concerned taxpayer. The SLT is a pork barrel project pure and simple = reckless spending.

Enhancing local roads is a need and could provide jobs for locals. These same roads could distribute traffic as effectively if not more so. These roads need attention and we cannot afford to do both. Let's maintain and improve our existing resources first. This makes dollars and sense.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

"It’s unlikely, he said, that legislators would approve a general tax increase for roads, which means funding probably would have to come from user fees, such as vehicle registration fees and gasoline taxes."

The RINO's in kansas will increase taxes after all and variety of them at that.

Michael Caron 5 years, 6 months ago

The first giant “if” cited by KDOT Secretary Miller was whether the 32nd St alignment will survive a challenge in federal court by those of us who oppose the SLT on cultural, historical and environmental grounds.

That Ms. Miller placed the lawsuit up front and center is significant. She is all too aware that opponents have not gone away. This place KDOT would pave must be saved. Many of us feel destroying this hallowed ground for a highway would be as senselessly vulgar as building an airport on top of Gettysburg. When you stand on the wetland boardwalk you are in presence of the war of cultural extermination inflicted on Native American children. For those who know how those young Indians resisted, it is the soul of the story of how native cultures were preserved. No less true than that Gettysburg has become the tangible heart of our story of how the Union was preserved.

There were other battles in distant places in both wars, but "progress" must never trump the sacred nature of such places. Here in Lawrence is where young resisters of both sexes transformed local Congressman Dudley C.Haskell's "Institute". These child warriors remade that once despised name, as well as the place itself, into something Indians now possess with pride.

Highway proponents tried to forget there even was a lawsuit over this latest of so many environmental injustices perpetrated against Indians. Deb Miller understands that the federal court has not even begun the preliminary moves that signal the case is about to go forward. Once it does, and the judge rules against this obscenely invasive road project, KDOT will again have to appeal to the 10th Circuit Court in Denver. That wait will probably be even longer.

Meanwhile, back in Kansas, the legislature will be debating who gets a slice of the much reduced highway fund pie. Since our economy has tanked, construction estimates are down to about $144 million to build the SLT across the wetlands. However, as the economy improves that totally unrealistic figure will skyrocket.

As legislators critically examine needs, it will be especially interesting to see whether our own delegation prioritizes returning desperately needed money to local schools, our university and decimated social services, or opt to play the costly political poker game required to win funding for the trafficway project from fellow legislators who, all want something for their own backyards, and all too many of whom think education and social services are "commie plots" best starved to death with funding cuts.

Orwell 5 years, 6 months ago

If the trafficway advocates had been willing to compromise on a route they could have had their road two decades and two major lawsuits ago, for a fraction of what it'll wind up costing – if it's ever actually built.

BigPrune 5 years, 6 months ago

Make it a toll road if need be. Let the majority rule for once in this town.

grimpeur 5 years, 6 months ago

"Also keep in mind that “transportation” spending isn’t just about highways any more. A transportation plan also must include rail and air systems and other forms of public transportation."

Bravo! And let's not forget that many of our residents commute on foot and by bicycle.

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