PITTSBURG, Kan.–Cell service and more passing lanes on Southeast Kansas’ more than 1,600 miles of state highways are a priority for state leaders. The Kansas Department of Transportation also talked about the need of completing the K-7 project in Crawford County, as well as actively working to make Kansas roads safer.
Dozens of Southeast Kansas residents made it out for the KDOT local consult meeting in Pittsburg. The meeting was spearheaded by Kansas Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz, with hopes of identifying how her department can best help citizens..
“Transportation is the connecting fibers for the way people want to live their lives,” Lorenz explained. “And we want to be able to deliver projects as efficiently and as most helpful to the most people.”
Lorenz noted the big picture for KDOT currently is to build more roads to connect Kansans to health care, education, jobs and technology. But, those needs can exceed the $8 million budget each county is given annually.
“We’re very hopeful to hear from people about what are their top priorities for transportation,” Lorenz added. “Whether it’s economic development or safety, or whether it’s having stronger pavements — we know that all those pieces have to work together to keep your economy moving.”
And looking at Southeast Kansas, there is a number of projects on the agenda, like the reconstruction of K-7 and even reconstruction work on K-99 in Chautauqua County.
“It means access to our community,” Chautauqua County resident Jim Beason explained. “Sedan is the community that is served by that in Chautauqua County and the current state of the highway is very dangerous.”
Beason drove more than 100 miles to attend the meeting, as he knows transportation plays an important role in his community.
“People avoid Highway 99 because it’s so bad and that detracts from commerce in our area,” Beason added.
And while much road work does lie ahead, Lorenz is hopeful conversations from the meeting reveal what projects should take highest priority with KDOT.
“These conversations are incredibly important to us because we have to prioritize projects all across the state and understanding how transportation projects really best serve local communities is key to making good decisions,” said Lorenz.
Lorenz says events like these help identify more cost-effective fixes to state roads. This meeting will help shape KDOT’s 10-year transportation program called “Forward.”