|KDOT Secretary Mike King|
As the 2014 legislative session slowly ramps up in the beautifully-renovated Statehouse, I want to briefly tell you about some of the exciting things going in Kansas transportation. Some of you know my three priorities as Secretary are safety, economic development and completion of the T-WORKS transportation program. So I will talk about each in that order.
In 2013, Kansas recorded a record low number of fatalities. While that’s certainly a positive, it’s no consolation for the devastated families and friends of the 349 people who lost their lives. Reducing that number to zero is my top priority and at the core of everything we do at KDOT. We will continue to design safety into every road project and educate Kansans as to how they can protect themselves and their loved ones every time they get into a car or truck.
KDOT projects pay dividends in the short-term and, literally, lay the groundwork for future economic success. We see that in the large, multi-year K-18 expansion project between Ogden and Manhattan that opened a few months ago. It provides the infrastructure to support the growth of Fort Riley, the future NBAF facility, Kansas State University and the Manhattan airport. And during construction, more than 170 businesses got work, injecting money from paychecks into local grocery stores, gas stations and hundreds more businesses.
While few projects have the huge economic benefit of a K-18, much smaller KDOT investments also make it possible for businesses to expand and add employees. McCarty Family Farms in Northwest Kansas and the Newell Rubbermaid plant in Cowley County are just two businesses that have been able to expand and add jobs because of KDOT-funded projects that improve transportation accessibility.
I’m thrilled to report that we are in the biggest construction years of the T-WORKS program right now, and we are on track to deliver the program. The long-awaited $130 million South Lawrence Trafficway is finally under way! The design-build construction of the $288 million Johnson County Gateway project (I-435/I-35/K-10) starts in a few months. And this spring, the East Kellogg freeway expansion in Wichita will be under construction. Since T-WORKS got under way in 2010, much has been accomplished. Here are a few numbers:
• 943 highway projects completed
• 7,567 miles improved
• 436 bridges repaired/replaced
• $2.1 billion let to construction
Finally, I’m very pleased to tell you that since the 2013 Legislature formalized the partnership between KDOT and the Kansas Turnpike Authority, innovation teams of staff from both agencies have identified more than $17 million in savings through shared resources, project coordination, co-location and more. We have conducted a Business Roundtable, hosted the first Kansas Transportation Summit and are organizing a freight advisory committee. We will continue to be creative and innovative as we build and maintain a transportation system that is world class. Together, we are one voice for Kansas transportation. And together, we have forged a partnership that is built for the growth of Kansas.
Transportation Secretary Mike King