Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King spoke to Marion Chamber of Commerce members and answered questions Friday.
Gene Winkler, who circulated a petition in 2012 requesting construction of a roundabout at the junction of U.S. 56/77 and K-150, asked about the progress of plans for a roundabout. King said bid letting for the project would be in April 2015.
In response to a question about the merger of Kansas Department of Transportation and the turnpike authority, King said the change won’t affect how either agency is run. The turnpike will still be paid for exclusively with tolls, and no toll revenue will be used for the regular highway system.
An audience member asked if there was a shortage of highway patrol officers. King said he thought there was a shortage, but Kansas Highway Patrol is separate from KDOT. He also said finding qualified applicants is a challenge. Out of a recent group of 150 applicants, only 30 passed the background check and drug screening, he said.
When County Commissioner Dan Holub had a question, King jokingly begged for a question from anyone else instead. Holub asked why KDOT was seeking to turn over some state highways to counties. King said there is a fair bit of paperwork and bureaucracy to deal with for every state highway and some, like K-215 into Goessel, just aren’t worth all the paperwork required.
Of his own initiative, King brought up the subject of Remington Rd. between U.S. 56 and Pilsen. He said that the county already receives state funds that it could use on the Pilsen road. He said that any larger assistance would have to wait until (and if) Emil Kapaun is canonized as a saint, creating enough traffic to warrant more state assistance.