Archive for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Officials await word on projects

February 25, 2009

It’s been more than a week since President Barack Obama signed into law the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, from which Kansas will receive $378 million for highway and transit projects.

But as the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Mid-America Regional Council decide who will get a portion of the money, local leaders are afraid none of it will make it to Leavenworth County.

“I’m not feeling real optimistic simply because when we look at the traffic counts from our projects compared to the rest of the projects submitted we are rather low,” Mike Yanez, city administrator said Tuesday.

In total, MARC received around $22 million from Kansas and $27 million from Missouri. It also received applications for 378 projects that totaled around $1.75 billion.

On Tuesday MARC’s Kansas Surface Transportation Program/Bridge Priorities Committee came out with a list prioritizing the projects that had been submitted.

Tonganoxie’s request for $321,000 to replace the Pleasant Street Bridge was ranked 17th out of the 119 projects listed. Two other projects were also ranked. The $1,098,850 for Fourth Street Phase III was ranked 107th, and the $655,375 needed improvements to Second and Cox streets was ranked 112th.

Heather Morgan, county administrator, also is apprehensive about the amount of money that will come to the county for rehabilitation of a bridge over Stranger Creek and overlay of County Road 9.

“Leavenworth County is hopeful to receive some of the funds but realistic in the fact that we are a very small player in the Kansas City metro area,” Morgan said.

The CR9 overlay work at $750,000 was ranked 67th and the bridge at $2,200,000 was ranked 73rd.

On Friday, Morgan brought the idea of drafting a resolution urging MARC to ensure federal stimulus funds “be distributed throughout the Kansas City Metro region and special consideration be given to communities in the metro area which are classified as economically disadvantaged and which did not receive special KDOT funding from the state allocation of state level stimulus dollars.”

She presented the idea to the city leaders attending the monthly Leavenworth County Development Corporation meeting and asked them to join the county in signing a joint resolution that will be presented to MARC before it makes its decisions on which projects to fund and which projects not to fund.

The county commissioners signed the resolution Monday.

Of the five projects submitted, Yanez believes the only one likely to receive funding would be the replacement of the bridge on Pleasant Street.

Kimberly Qualls, spokesperson for KDOT, said that any decisions on funding of local projects will not be made by KDOT until late March and she expects MARC to make its decisions by the end of next week.

Morgan said if the MARC money does not come through, the county’s only hope is to get some of the $11 million dollars allocated to KDOT’s district one.

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