According to the Kansas Contractors Association, a recent poll found Kansas voters do not agree with how state leaders are spending taxpayer dollars – specifically, the sweeping of $2.7 billion away from the Kansas Department of Transportation to the general fund over the last six years.
Conducted by the association from Nov. 20-22, 2016, the poll found:
• 86 agree that investing in our highways, bridges and roads helps create jobs and is a wise investment of public funds
• 63 percent say that the legislature has not adequately funded road programs
• 59 percent say roads are in poor condition and need repair
“The numbers don’t lie; $2.7 billion has been swept from transportation funding to the state’s general fund and voters are taking notice,” said KCA Executive Vice President, Bob Totten. “This is just the most recent poll to show Kansans believe their roads and bridges are in dire need of repair.”
Totten said for every one-dollar invested in roads and bridges $5.20 is returned in economic benefit. “Research has shown that well-designed road and bridge investments, such as the Transportation Works for Kansas program, can raise economic growth, productivity and land values, while also providing significant improvement to areas such as economic development.
“By leaving roads and bridges in disrepair, we are damaging the Kansas economy and that damage will not be easy to undo,” Totten said. “Kansas, a leader in global agriculture, depends on our roads and bridges to haul heavy loads transporting commerce daily. The structural integrity of our roads and bridges is necessary to take products to market and subsequently feed the world.”
Totten’s remarks deal with the statewide implications of these cuts. However, there is good cause to examine them on the local level.
The City of Great Bend and Barton County have both benefitted from these infrastructure projects. Funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation has helped with several projects that make travel safer close to home.
However, now, some of the future projects could be in jeopardy.
Furthermore, such a move is incredibly shortsighted. State officials maintain that over 90 percent of the state’s highways are in good condition, but that may not be the case for long if Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature continue to siphon funds from KDOT.
Our roads truly connect all of us.