City Leaders Prioritize Road Projects

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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It's expected cities will have just 90 to 120 days to get projects approved and underway if Congress passes President Obama's economic stimulus package, which is why Wichita is working to get a jump start.

"We are doing a community wide assessment of various projects," says council member Jim Skelton. "There are a lot of unknowns at this point."

The mammoth economic stimulus package Congress is working on is still a work in progress, but cities around the country are already scrambling to trim down projects that could qualify for funding. One of those areas Wichita is focusing on: road work.

"It's kind of a trick to put this together especially when you don't know what Congress is going to approve yet," said Chris Carrier, Director of Public Works.

Wichita planners are now coming up with an expansive list of possible projects. Those will then go to city council for approval. Once Congress makes a decision, projects will need to be "shovel ready", which means approved and underway within 90 to 120 days.

"We're going to have to submit something, in my mind, that's realistic," said Carrier.

While the projects could range from overlaying broken concrete on old streets, to bigger projects like developing the area near 47th and I-135, council members and city planners said they're working to make sure Wichita gets its fair share of the some $825 billion package.

"Our infrastructure really, in my opinion, is the backbone for the nation's economy and we can't let it degrade," said Skelton.

"We are doing everything we can to get as much of that federal stimulus money in Wichita as we can get," said Carrier.

City leaders said while they will have to work fast to get projects ready, they hope the extra money will mean a little extra work will be available for Kansans.

"It's going to be a good thing for Kansas and the city of Wichita," said Skelton.

"We're looking at it as a once in a life time opportunity to do some things in Wichita that maybe we wouldn't normally have the money to do," said Carrier.

Congress is currently on track to pass the stimulus package by Presidents Day, February 16th.

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