Salina, Kansas — Building the next multi-billion dollar transportation program to replace T-Works brought the Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force to Salina today. The task force is made up of legislators, local and state government officials, and private business stakeholders.
"T-Works is coming to a conclusion as we approach the final years of the 10-year plan," said Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina), a member of the task force. "What we are working on now is the program that will replace T-Works and maintain our top rankings for the best highways in the nation."
T-Works has met spending goals in 102 of 105 counties and the Kansas Department of Transportation predicts all 105 counties will receive their promised share of program dollars before the end of the plan in 2020. Twenty-five major projects were completed under T-Works at a cost of $1.289 billion, almost $133 million below estimates.
"KDOT is one of the areas of government that works efficiently and finds savings, delivering one of the top highway systems in the nation," said Claeys. "Those savings are reinvested in projects and preservation of the existing system."
Throughout the history of the T-Works program, State Highway Fund dollars have been swept into the general fund to balance budgets. Those reductions have caused a shift to lighter preservation projects, less reconstruction, bridge deterioration and overall health of the system declining.
"My priority in this process is a stable funding stream that cannot be used to plug budget holes," said Claeys. "Preserving the quality of our system and modernizing roads to increase safety for Kansas drivers is where our dollars need to go first."
Claeys is the chair of the Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee in the Kansas House of Representatives. He is also a member of the Kansas Transportation Vision Task Force, the Kansas Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force, and the House Appropriations Committee.
"In 2018, I was able to pull back over $57 million back into the T-Works program to restart delayed projects," said Claeys. "We can keep the promise of T-Works while designing a new program that maintains the high quality of our statewide transportation system."
This is the second meeting of the Transportation Vision Task Force as members travel the state to gather input on a new system. Salina Community Economic Development Organization executive director, Mitch Robinson, delivered testimony to the task force at today's meeting. Robinson focused on improvements to K-4, Magnolia Road from I-135 to Centennial, the Salina Airport, and OCCK public transportation.
The next meeting of the task force is in Wyandotte County Wednesday, September 12.