Public meeting prioritzes road projects
Portions of the Kansas Highway 7 and Interstate 70 interchange project in Wyandotte County made it to the top of a priority list of road projects during a public open house Friday in Kansas City, Kan.
The open house, conducted by the Kansas Department of Transportation, was held at the National Guard Armory and drew city officials, KDOT road engineers and a handful of public residents.
During the meeting, attendees were sectioned off into 10 groups to discuss what road projects should be a priority in the spending of $1.7 billion in funds that has been authorized by T-WORKS, a new transportation program passed by the state Legislature in May. Projects on the table to be discussed totaled 21, and included the Interstate 35 expansion in Johnson County and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Maggie Thompson, spokesperson for KDOT, said the list had been narrowed down over a period of four years of KDOT playing host to similar public meetings, with the original list of road projects up for discussion totaling more than 400.
Participants Friday were asked to create among their groups two tiers of road projects, with tier one being top priority and those in tier two having not as much of a priority when it comes to the spending. Projects of most priority to the majority of participants were the Southwest Lawrence Trafficway, the Gateway Project, which will include construction and improvements to Interstate 435, I-35 and Kansas Highway 10, and phases one to three of the K-7/I-70 interchange project. Work in those phases will include the construction of ramps in the northwest and southwest quadrants of the interchange and the expansion of I-70 from four to six lanes from K-7 to 110th Street.
Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller made sure to emphasize during the meeting, however, that prioritizing projects didn’t mean these would be the ones chosen for the funding. She said a lot of factors, including public input, would go into the decision-making process.
“I think it was really helpful, but it’s not a vote,” Miller said of the meeting, which is the second in a series of six similar meetings being held over the month of October throughout the state of Kansas. “I think it’s made a world of difference in terms of the understanding KDOT has in terms of (state road priorities). Your participation is ensuring better decisions are made on behalf of the taxpayers.”
• More of this story can be found in the Oct. 28 issue of The Chieftain.