Friday, January 24, 2014

Five for Friday with the Kansas Transportation Liaison

Talking KDOT & KTA partnership, 2014 Legislative Session

Today’s Five- for- Friday feature is with Tara Mays, who is the Kansas Transportation Liaison.  Mays is charged with the implementation of the KDOT and Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) partnership and serves as KDOT’s Acting Chief of Governmental Affairs.  With the Kansas Legislature now in full swing, we wanted to take a few minutes to tell you more about the partnership and what is coming up this session.

1.       What is the Kansas transportation agenda for this legislative session?
“Our agenda is very light for the coming legislative session.  We will mostly be giving informational presentations to legislators, updating them on our progress.  We are creating a Freight Advisory Committee and a Funding Advisory Committee, which we will spend a lot of time discussing with legislators.”

 2.       What exactly will the Freight and Funding advisory committees do?
“These committees will be composed of members from both the public and private sector who deal with issues related to transportation.  The committees will offer ideas and give recommendations for how transportation could be improved in the future.”

3.       In July, House Bill 2334 went into effect, which formalizes the partnership between KDOT and KTA. What was the reasoning behind this?  And would you call it a partnership or a merger?
“It’s a partnership, not a merger.  As specifically stated in the legislation, both entities will remain separate.  However, the purpose of this partnership is to help improve transportation as a whole by encouraging more collaboration among the agencies.  While both agencies did work together in the past on some projects, this formalized partnership is seen as a way to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

4.       There are some concerns about how this partnership might negatively impact services.  How would you say the partnership is going and have any saving been identified?
“The partnership is going very well. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve identified more than $17 million worth of estimated savings.  These savings will allow us to make additional improvements and to help keep costs down for travelers.   I want to ensure people that the purpose of this partnership is to improve services and not to reduce them.  We are tracking very closely the system as it stands at the start of the partnership and beyond to ensure that there is no change in the services that those traveling in Kansas have come to expect.”

5.       Funding is always a concern for agencies. What is the current status of transportation revenues?
"At the state level, we are in the fourth year of the 10-year state transportation program, T-WORKS, which has us in pretty good shape.  Of course, we will always have to be aware of any potential legislative changes that might impact our revenues for T-WORKS.  At the federal level, Congress will be charged with reauthorizing the federal transportation program this year."

Five for Friday is an ongoing series featuring notable transportation figures.  If there is someone you would like to see featured, please recommend him or her in the comment box below.

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