Richard Carlson will depart the Kansas Department of Transportation this week. Carlson has served as the Secretary of Transportation since July 2016.
A St. Marys native, Carlson first became involved in politics through his work as a Pottawatomie County Commissioner, a position he held for 12 years before being elected to the state legislature. He then served in the Kansas House of Representatives for 10 years, representing the 61st District of Pottawatomie County and northern Wabaunsee County. In addition to his work as Chairman of the House Taxation Committee for six years, Carlson was also a member of the Appropriations Committee and Commerce and Labor Committee. He later served as the Legislative Liaison and Tax Policy Adviser for the Kansas Department of Revenue from December 2014 until his transportation appointment.
During his time as KDOT’s Transportation Secretary, several projects have reached completion.
Here are a few highlights:
|Aerial view of a portion of the Johnson County Gateway|
Johnson County Gateway Phase 2: This $288 million project is a vital economic corridor for the region and for Kansas. The project consisted of reconstruction and capacity improvements within the I-435, I-35 and K-10 interchange area, along with improvements at several major local interchanges. Within the project area, there were 56 new lane miles added as well as 22 new and five rehabilitated bridges, including three new two-lane flyover bridge ramps and widened bridges on I-435 and I-35. The conclusion of the project took place in December 2016.
|The South Lawrence Trafficway is a four-lane, six-mile free way.|
South Lawrence Trafficway: After more than two decades of planning, and construction, the South Lawrence Trafficway opened to travelers in November 2016. The four-lane, six-mile freeway provides an important connection for Douglas, Johnson and Shawnee counties. Travelers have experienced traffic congestion relief and a reduction of travel time. The project also impacted the environment in a positive way. Although KDOT used approximately 58 acres of wetlands, a mitigation package expanded the original wetland area and restored 317 acres of wetlands, 37 acres of upland prairie and 16 acres of riparian habitats.
|Two transload facilities were opened in 2017. Photo credit by Brandon Stelnert.|
Two transload facilities in Great Bend and Garden City: In 2017 KDOT celebrated the opening of two transload facilities in Kansas. These facilities are designed to increase opportunities for freight shipping and provide cost effective ways to improve state infrastructure and benefit the communities where they are located.
|Three major construction projects along U.S. 54 were continued or initiated during Sec. Carlson's tenure.|
Progress on projects in Wichita: Three major construction projects along U.S. 54, the main east-west highway through Wichita, continued or were initiated during Sec. Carlson’s tenure. The first phase of the interchange reconstruction of I-235 and U.S. 54 has nearly finished and includes seven new bridges, two new flyover ramps, auxiliary lanes on I-235 and many other safety and transportation efficiency improvements.
Extension of the U.S. 54 freeway in east Wichita is also advancing. Two projects from Webb Road to the interchange with K-96 extends the six-lane freeway three miles, adds new interchanges at Webb and Greenwich roads and includes open road tolling on new entrances and exits of the Kansas Turnpike. These two projects are the result of an enhanced KDOT partnership with the City of Wichita and the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
|The TPIMS system was deployed last week and will help professional drivers locate real-time|
parking availability easier and safer.
Truck Parking Information Management System: KDOT deployed the TPIMS, which is designed to help professional drivers locate real-time parking availability easier and safer. This regional project exists because of the partnership between eight participating states. Drivers will receive availability information through dynamic message signs, smartphone applications, in-cab technology and traveler information websites.
Division of Innovative Technologies: KDOT created a Division of Innovative Technologies in fall 2017 to propel Kansas into the future. It will also work to bring innovative technologies that relate to transportation, management and data to the state.
These are just a few of the many accomplishments Carlson has helped KDOT achieve and we would like to thank him for leading the agency for the past two and a half years.