Friday, September 21, 2018

Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force – Pittsburg meeting

More than 125 people joined us in Pittsburg for the third Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force on yesterday, including legislators, industry leaders, local government representatives, and a variety of stakeholder advocates. Presentations from the meeting can be found here.

Transportation Funding in Kansas – At this meeting, we provided an overview on the different funding mechanisms used in Kansas including federal funds, motor fuel tax, registration and licensing fees, sales tax and local funding, along with financing approaches like bonding.  As we look to the future, we need to consider how we need to adapt our funding sources to meet the changing opportunities and demands of transportation. We also heard from Steve Hewitt, CEO of the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA), on tolling trends and how the KTA is modernizing its system.

Funding and Finance Approaches in Other States – To provide context for how other states are handling the funding challenges to meet their transportation demands, we looked at how peer states (Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma) approach transportation funding. Additionally, 21 states across the country are currently considering legislation to address transportation funding. Six states have also implemented legislation to try to ensure transportation funds are spent on transportation projects.

Local Testimony Highlights the Importance of Economic Opportunities and Safety Improvements – During the local input testimony, we heard from many stakeholders, including industry representatives, local elected officials, and private citizens. For example, we heard from Pat Cedeno, Senior Vice President of Network Relations for WATCO Transportation Services, on the importance of rail, with railcar loads having more than doubled in Kansas over the past several years. The multimodal facility fund helps provide access to rail as freight moves across our state. Stakeholders shared the importance of completing projects identified under the T-WORKS program. Completing these projects would help improve the safety of our roads for travelers and bring economic develop opportunities to adjacent communities. We heard personal stories from residents of southeast Kansas on the importance of improving safety on roads, including highways such as U.S. 69, U.S. 169, U.S. 400 and K-99. Community representatives shared the importance of expanding U.S. 69 to a four-lane highway. Expansion of the highway could have the potential to attract additional businesses and increase the economic vitality of the region.

The next meeting will be at the Meridian Center in Newton on Oct. 4. Topics include rail and freight, local programs, and program structure and budget scenarios. We will also begin exploring a calculator simulation that will help the task force examine different funding scenarios and consider tradeoffs as we work toward recommendations later this fall. We encourage you to attend a meeting near you and provide public testimony about why transportation is important to you, what’s working well and what could be improved. More information about future meeting locations and directions on how to provide testimony can be found here.

Freight and Rail-specific meetings in Newton. We will also host a meeting for stakeholders that are interested in discussing freight and rail topics. This meeting will be held from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. at the Meridian Center in Newton before the task force meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. Additional topic-specific stakeholder meetings will be held at future meetings, including aviation, transit, and bike/pedestrian at the Wichita meeting on Oct. 18. Keep a look out for additional details on stakeholder meetings as future meetings approach!

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