Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Senator earmarks $500K for CR 1

Roberts includes funds in legislation

July 25, 2007

The federal government could kick in a half million dollars toward construction of a Leavenworth County road that would accommodate a proposed turnpike interchange in the county.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced Thursday that $500,000 has been earmarked in the 2008 budget to help fund the controversial Leavenworth County Road 1 renovation project -- six miles of road from just south of Tonganoxie to Kansas Highway 32. The project carries an estimated $12.9 million price tag.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke said he had hoped for more money but still was pleased by the potential contribution.

"You know, we would have liked to have a million, but $500,000 is $500,000, so whatever we get is that much less that we as the county will have to put into the project," Oroke said.

Oroke and other Leavenworth County area officials met with federal lawmakers from Missouri and Kansas in February to discuss funding for the project.

Oroke also met with lawmakers as part of a Mid-America Regional Council group during the visit.

"A lot of these relationships don't just happen overnight. ... What you're telling them is gospel so to speak," Oroke said. "They hear requests from a lot of people."

Roberts, who has pushed for the funding in recent years, was encouraged that the Senate Appropriation Committee included the funding in the budget.

"I am pleased the Senate has recognized this important regional economic development project to enhance the safety and accessibility of the Leavenworth and Tonganoxie areas," Roberts said.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority, which will build the interchange on Interstate-70 where County Road 1 currently passes over I-70, also has pledged $2 million to the project. The city of Tonganoxie, meanwhile, has offered $100,000 annually for 10 years.

But not everyone, including some Tonganoxie residents, is on board with the project.

Last September, Tonganoxie residents Roger and Phyllis Shilling started petitions asking that the issue of the city contributing money to the project be put on a ballot.

In November, the city brought a lawsuit against the 354 petition signers, claiming the petition was not legal.

In July, Leavenworth County District Court Judge David King ruled that the petition was invalid, stating that the proposed ordinance was "overbroad."

Rural residents who live near County Road 1 also have held meetings expressing their displeasure for the project. Many hold the opinion that it is unnecessary and that county funds should go to more pressing road projects.

The federal budget will be debated in the Senate and be put to a vote. It also must be passed by the House of Representatives before being sent to President Bush for final approval.

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