KDOT

Kansas Department of Transportation

There could be a slight change (and hopefully improvement) to your commute this summer if you regularly drive on I-35.

New ramp meters, designed to help ease congestion, will start running in mid-to-late July, says Mark Sommerhauser, KC Scout transportation project manager. 

KC Scout is working with the Kansas Department of Transportation on the $250,000 project. KC Scout will take over maintenance and operation once testing is finished. 

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Dennis Wright isn’t alone.

He’s one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Kansas residents and public officials waiting for the state to solve its money problems so that dozens of highway projects that have been indefinitely delayed can get going again.

“People are incredulous,” Wright says. “Our roads are going to pot. You can drive anywhere in the state and see problems.”

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Sen. John Skubal, R-Overland Park, and Ed DeSoignie, Executive Director of the Heavy Contractors Association, discuss where Kansas could find funding for infrastructure projects as the legislature continues to talk about borrowing more money from KDOT's budget.

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is hoping the federal government can rescue several critical infrastructure projects that the state can no longer afford.

The Brownback administration recently sent what amounts to a wish list to President Donald Trump for inclusion in his planned infrastructure initiative. It includes the following $240 million in highway and bridge projects delayed or abandoned because of the state’s ongoing budget problems:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

In what could be a blow to the road construction industry in Kansas, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Tuesday said it will only spend $44 million on new projects in the next fiscal year.

For the past several years KDOT has let about $400 million just on preservation projects, including roads and bridges.

“It’s going to cause us additional concern about the safety and reliability of our roads, getting product to market and also providing jobs for many of the folks who are in the construction business,” says Bob Totten with the Kansas Contractors Association.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Ten more road projects in Kansas have been postponed indefinitely.

That’s in addition to the 24 that were put on hold last month.

“Yesterday we were informed that the 18 projects that were scheduled to be let in January, KDOT has reduced that down to eight,” says Bob Totten with the Kansas Contractors Association.

The cancelled road projects for December and January total more than $49 million. Kansas is facing a $348 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2017.

The Kansas Department of Transportation opened bids Wednesday on a highway project that is key to legislative races in southeast Kansas.

The project would expand U.S. Highway 69 from two lanes to four between Kansas City and Pittsburg — something residents of that part of southeast Kansas say is essential for safe movement of people and goods.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

As the 2016 legislative session was winding down in May, Sen. Jake LaTurner sat for an interview on a bench just outside the Old Supreme Courtroom.

The first-term Republican from Pittsburg was still about a half-year away from facing his first reelection challenge. But he could already anticipate one issue that would be big for his campaign.

"Highway 69 is always an issue in the elections," LaTurner said. "If you're a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, whatever your party affiliation is, you better be a supporter of Highway 69."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Road contractors in Kansas are worried about their future business after the state Department of Transportation announced it was delaying the bids on some April resurfacing projects.

Kansas Contractors Association Vice President Bob Totten says some of his members began to hear about the delays on Monday from KDOT officials. While the projects don't officially go out for bid until next month, contractors typically hear about the projects 45 days before bidding to help them craft the bid or even decide if they want to bid on the project, says Totten.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas legislative session is already underway in Topeka. On this week's Statehouse Blend, we discuss the most important issues for the 2016 legislature, and speculate on the outcomes. We're talking KDOT, elections, and the budget.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas legislative session is already underway in Topeka. On this week's Statehouse Blend, we discuss the most important issues for the 2016 legislature, and speculate on the outcomes. We're talking KDOT, elections, and the budget.

Guests:

Sam Zeff / KCUR

  We already know that the budget problems in Kansas are eating into some core functions of government.

The state will have to postpone maintenance work on hundreds of miles of highways. And those highways are a little less safe because the Kansas Highway Patrol is at least 75 troopers short of full strength.

But budget problems for state law enforcement run even deeper.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Did Kansas lawmakers know about the state's controversial decision to lift the borrowing limit for the Department of Transportation? 

This PowerPoint slide seems to suggest they did, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle along with transportation insiders whom KCUR has talked to all say they were surprised to see KDOT borrowing at record levels in December. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Some lawmakers in Topeka have alleged a backroom deal was made without debate when the Kansas budget passed last session temporarily removed limits on how much the Kansas Department of Transportation can borrow. But the chairman of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr., from Olathe, says that’s untrue.

KDOT’s total bond debt had for years been capped at 18 percent of the department’s annual revenue. But, a provision in the budget bill passed in June removed that limit for two years.

Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf

Dec 19, 2015
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Sen. Kay Wolf from Prairie Village, provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss KDOT funding, and the national view of Kansas.

Guests:

neetalparekh / Flickr--CC

Late this week, Kansans got two interesting pieces of economic data within 24 hours of each other. Let's start with the second: the state's latest jobs report for November.

Gov. Sam Brownback certainly liked what it had to say, based on a Tweet he sent out Friday morning. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

 Was a little-noticed provision slipped into this year's Kansas budget a backdoor way for the state to continue squeezing the Department of Transportation for more general fund revenue? Some lawmakers and transportation experts suggest that could be the case. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Linda Gallagher from Lenexa provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss KDOT funding, education, and guns.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

  • Linda Gallagher, Representative for the 23rd District, Kansas Legislature
  • Cameron Baraban, citizen
  • Maria Carter, News Director, KCUR

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Republican Kansas Rep. Linda Gallagher from Lenexa provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss KDOT funding, education, and guns.

Guests:

  • Linda Gallagher, Representative for the 23rd District, Kansas Legislature
  • Cameron Baraban, citizen
  • Maria Carter, News Director, KCUR

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas tax revenues are plummeting and that may bode poorly for the future of the state's highway system.

Tax revenue has come in $57 million below estimates since the fiscal year began in July, leading the Brownback Administration to sweep money from different places to balance the budget. The biggest hit was taken by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

You can talk about expansion projects, preservation projects and economic development around transportation, but for many, what’s happening to KDOT funding right now boils down to one thing.

The number of Fatalities on Kansas roads has reached an all-time low. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) says there were 344 fatalities on the state's roads last year.

The number of deaths on Kansas roads has fallen significantly in the last decade or so. There were more than 500 deaths in 2002.

"I really think that there's a lot of factors that are contributing," says Steven Buckley, safety engineer with KDOT.

Are KDOT And MoDOT Ready For Winter?

Nov 22, 2013
Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Kansas City area drivers have had 8 months—to the day—to forget what it’s like to drive through 12 inches of snow falling in a single day. That February 21, mammoth fall was followed by an identical one four days later.

So, as we gear up for winter again, how ready are the metro Kansas City highway departments for 2013?

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Governor Sam Brownback and state officials are urging Kansans to prepare for the storm that’s sweeping across the state. Brownback says the winter weather has already caused one fatality in Kansas.