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Funding gap poses roadblock to transportation program

Dec. 6, 2005 ( 05-237)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News Contact: Steve Swartz, (785) 296-3585

Funding gap poses roadblock to transportation program

A key funding component of the state’s 10-year transportation program is $117 million short of what Kansas legislators and state officials assumed in 2004 when they approved a restructured funding package for the program

After several months of analyzing the long-awaited, complex federal transportation bill known as SAFETEA-LU, Kansas Department of Transportation officials have determined that less than half of the state’s increase in federal funding can be applied to the 1999 Comprehensive Transportation Program (CTP).

When the CTP was restructured by the 2004 Legislature, it was assumed that the transportation program would receive an infusion of $250 million in new federal money over five years. However, when the new federal allocation is divided among cities, counties, new programs and earmarked projects not in the CTP, only $133 million can be applied to the state program.

“As a result of this gap and other funding pressures, I am requesting that in the first weeks of the 2006 session, legislators follow through on their earlier commitment to issue additional state general fund bonds to ensure the completion of the CTP,” said KDOT Secretary Deb Miller. “In 2004, the Legislature wisely included a contingency plan in case the CTP funding package approved that year proved to be insufficient. Our analysis clearly shows we must now implement that plan to complete all of the projects promised to Kansas communities.”

The 2004 restructured funding package for the CTP authorized the issuance of $150 million in State General Fund (SGF) bonds to help offset the impact of earlier funding reductions needed to balance the state budget. In addition, the Legislature provided that another $60 million in SGF bonds could be issued as a fail safe if the increase in federal funds for the final five years of the CTP fell short of the assumed $250 million.

“The federal funding gap, combined with escalating construction and operating costs driven up by this season’s devastating Gulf hurricanes, have put our transportation plan in jeopardy,” said Miller.

Miller also called on legislators to honor another commitment that was built into the 2004 restructuring – repayment of $125 million in loans made to the state out of the highway fund.

Since the start of the CTP, more than 2,600 projects have been let and $3.5 billion spent on construction. Remaining in the program are $1.2 billion in construction projects and more than $700 million in substantial maintenance across more than 4,300 miles of roadway.

“The success of the CTP has come through the strong support of the Governor and the Legislature. But the program is not complete,” Miller said.

“The 2004 funding package anticipated the need for further action to protect the CTP,” Miller said. “By making good on all of the elements in that package legislators can make sure that all the remaining projects are delivered as promised.”

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