ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times
Since the inception of the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program, better known as IKE, officials with the Kansas Department of Transportation have been seeking input from Sunflower State residents on how to improve highway travel in the state.
As part of that process, KDOT, every two years, hosts local consult meetings across Kansas as a forum to listen to regional needs from people who live and work in each of KDOT’s six districts and two metro areas.
KDOT is preparing to host eight in-person meetings across the state and one virtual meeting this fall as part of the 2023 local consult process.
One of those meetings is coming up Wednesday, Oct. 4, in Garden City, and KDOT Public Affairs Manager for Southwest Kansas Yazmin Moreno said those who attend will have a chance to air their input on a list of potential expansion and modernization projects for the region.
“Our region is the southwest region. It runs from Greeley County, east to Ness, south to Clark and west to Morton,” she said. “There’s 19 counties in total. This is also an opportunity to strengthen local partnerships, to better understand which KDOT programs matter most to communities and get feedback on how we can improve”
Moreno too said participants can share the priorities of their counties and cities and hear about investments being made in the area’s transportation.
“They’re also going to have the opportunity to hear about various grants we offer through KDOT,” she said.
In July, KDOT hosted a series of three public meetings in Liberal to let locals get a look at some possible alternatives for reconfiguring the Six Points intersection as well as a four-lane project on U.S. Highway 54 east of Liberal. Moreno said those meetings had good attendance.
“There were a lot of concepts we presented to the community,” she said. “We got a lot of feedback.”
At this time, Moreno said KDOT leaders are compiling that feedback.
“We are looking at the most voted on concepts, and we’ll come back in November for another public involvement meeting to discuss the two concepts we will be looking at for the intersection and the concept we chose for the corridor alternative,” she said.
With the upcoming local consult in Garden City, Moreno said KDOT will continue to seek input on area transportation.
“We will listen to all of the participants, all their needs and their priorities, and that will help us look at what’s next for our region, what priorities we need to look at in the future in the southwest future,” she said.
Past KDOT programs have not sought as much input as the IKE program, and Moreno said she feels getting feedback from constituents is important to developing transportation.
“It creates the opportunity for Kansans to weigh in on transportation challenges that are based in their area,” she said. “It allows them to voice their priorities, what they think should happen next and gives an idea where to go in the future.”
Meetings such as those that have taken place this year allow KDOT leaders to listen, and Moreno said much of the IKE program is about listening to Kansans, adapting to regional transportation needs and investing tax dollars accordingly.
“We believe the locals know more of what’s going on in their area, so when listening to the locals, we’re able to better serve our areas, better invest our tax dollars,” she said.
With constantly changing challenges in transportation, Moreno said the two-year IKE program allows KDOT to adapt to those changes.
“We can adjust those challenges more effectively,” she said.
Moreno gave a brief update on KDOT projects taking place in Southwest Kansas.
“We have a couple of expansion projects we’re currently looking at,” she said. “We have the four-lane expansion in Seward County. That will be from Six Points all the way up to Tucker Road, and that will connect to the existing four-lane project there. We also have one in Garden City, which is from Finney County to Gray County. We have that four-lane expansion project on U.S.-50. We have another four-lane expansion project. We are currently looking at the east side of Dodge City on U.S.-50.”
Moreno said a four-lane expansion project happening east of Liberal on Hwy. 54 to the weigh station is nearly complete.
“That should be complete by the end of October weather permitting,” she said.
Moreno said there are some other projects in place at this time as well.
“We have our preservation project from the 54 junction all the way down to the Oklahoma state line,” she said. “That should be complete this year. We also have passing lanes from 160 all the way to the Seward/Meade county line.”
The Oct. 4 local consult meeting will take place from 9 a.m., to noon at the Clarion Inn in Garden City. Moreno said a virtual meeting is also scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
For more information about these meetings and others, log on to www.ike.ksdot.gov.