Archive for Tuesday, May 25, 2010

South Lawrence Trafficway could get boost from highway bill Parkinson signed Tuesday

May 25, 2010, 8:00 a.m. Updated May 25, 2010, 4:34 p.m.


Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller and Lt. Gov. Troy Findley applaud Tuesday after Gov. Mark Parkinson (seated) signs into law the $8.2 billion, 10-year transportation program.

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller and Lt. Gov. Troy Findley applaud Tuesday after Gov. Mark Parkinson (seated) signs into law the $8.2 billion, 10-year transportation program.

Parkinson signs transportation bill

Governor Mark Parkinson signed an $8 billion transportation plan that he said will bring thousands of jobs to Kansas. Enlarge video

— Two controversial projects that would have a big impact in northeast Kansas got a boost Tuesday with the signing of the new transportation plan by Gov. Mark Parkinson.

The $8.2 billion, 10-year plan includes $35 million to BNSF Railway to help build a new rail and distribution center in Edgerton, in southern Johnson County.

And it includes $1.7 billion for major highway projects, which could include the proposed South Lawrence Trafficway.

On the rail center, Parkinson said after discussing the project with BNSF officials during the past year, he believed the funding was necessary to get the delayed project moving.

“I became convinced that if we didn’t find some way to provide some additional assistance, the intermodal would not have been built,” he said.

He said the question became whether the upfront $35 million cost was worth the benefit of the economic development. “I’m convinced that it is,” he said, adding that he is confident the project will move forward. Developers say the project will produce 8,700 permanent jobs.

The plan allows the state to make a $35 million grant available to BNSF. Under another bill, the $35 million will be paid back through sales taxes on utilities paid by businesses in the center.

Rep. Tony Brown, D-Baldwin City, whose legislative district abuts where the intermodal will be built, said the project will be a big economic boost to the area.

“We’re anxious to get going on that,” Brown said.

The project has faced stiff opposition from some nearby residents who say it will harm the environment.

The South Lawrence Trafficway doesn’t get direct help under the highway plan, but could receive funding if it survives legal challenges, Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said.

She said the SLT “would fall into that category” of projects that could receive funding through the $1.7 billion for expansion.

The estimated $148 million SLT project has been mired in controversy for years and is being challenged in federal court by a coalition of organizations and individuals concerned that the planned route through the Baker Wetlands would be environmentally damaging and would harm nearby Haskell Indian Nations University.

Overall, officials say the new transportation plan will create thousands of jobs, preserve Kansas’ highly ranked highway system and promote economic development. Most of the money will be spent on highways and bridge maintenance and repairs.

“This is one of the most important jobs bills that has passed in the history of this state,” Parkinson said.

The legislation authorizes taking on $1.7 billion in new debt. In 2013, the Kansas Department of Transportation will start getting revenue from the sales tax, and registration fees for heavy trucks will increase $100.


Truami 7 years, 10 months ago

Shouldn't we be thinking of alternatives to the roadways and cars? I mean, is the oil spill not a HUGE sign that we are messing this world up with this addiction we have? I would like to have an intervention with Human Society.

steveguy 7 years, 10 months ago

I say finish the south bypass through the wet lands now!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

Tell ya what-- pave the "mitigation," and give Haskell their wetlands back.

topflight 7 years, 10 months ago

Tell ya what - pave the wetlands. quit wasting money and stop being a bozo.

Mike Ford 7 years, 10 months ago

if the lawsuits didn't have merit, why aren't the full speed ahead dumblicans going full speed ahead? the lawsuits have merit both with the SLT and the Intermodal plans. What was done in the 19th century will be stopped this time around. The environmental impact studies on the SLT and the Intermodal were both greased with back scratching and deep pockets. I'm sure the dumblicans want full speed ahead so that more environmental damage like BP and Haliburton can be done. Dumblicans never learn. Profits and capitalism blind them to warning signs, so they blame the victims instead of being responsible in the first place. Better yet, a republicrat raising taxes in Kansas? REALLY?!?

mdrndgtl 7 years, 10 months ago

Cover the wetlands in oil first, then build it.

lounger 7 years, 10 months ago

Pure B.S. - and I do mean pure!!! No regard for the wildlife down in the wetlands. LEAVE THE WETLANDS ALONE!!!!!!!!! Money grubbing, politically spinning B>S>!!! This is an abuse of power in a very big way. They just drained the haskall part and TONS of road kill today. A sign of things to come-HELL YES. LEAVE THE WETLANDS ALONE-LEAVE THE WETLANDS ALONE-LEAVE THE WETLANDS ALONE-LEAVE THE WETLANDS ALONE..................................................

Commenting has been disabled for this item.