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MPO leader says agreement key to project funding

By Brady Bauman

The more regional leaders can agree on projects, the more likely it is that the Kansas Department of Transportation will fund them, said Stephanie Watts at a meeting Wednesday.

“Projects that have involvement and support from multiple jurisdictions will have more of KDOT’s attention,” said Watts, transportation planner for the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The group’s technical advisory committee and policy board met Wednesday to dicuss projects being taken to local consult meetings in early October.

These local consult meetings are hosted by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and occur every couple of years to gather regional input on transportation priorities and projects.

Watts told leaders from Riley, Geary and Pottawattomie counties, along with city representatives from Manhattan, Junction City and Wamego, that projects KDOT is interested in hearing about would be planned for beyond 2020 and into 2030.

Among the bigger projects discussed were a bridge to cross the Big Blue River and connect Junietta Road to Marlatt Avenue north of Manhattan to ease traffic on U.S. Highway 24, and a northern connection uniting east and west U.S. Highway 24 north of Manhattan.

The room was in agreement that feasibility and traffic studies would provide the best information before more serious planning begins.

Formal presentations on all projects from regional leaders will start later this month.

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