The Butler County Commissioners ranked their top state highway projects being considered by the Kansas Department of Transportation for the new T-Works transportation program this year during their meeting Tuesday


The Butler County Commissioners ranked their top state highway projects being considered by the Kansas Department of Transportation for the new T-Works transportation program this year during their meeting Tuesday.

Darryl Lutz, public works director, explained to the commission that this was part of the process to identify projects important to local identities.

“Any projects we want to have score well with KDOT needs to have local support,” he explained.

Among the projects discussed were an interchange along Highway 254 and protecting the Highway 400 corridor. KDOT came back with a project to put an interchange at River Valley Road and 254 and to widen 400.

The state has a total of $1.7 billion for expansion projects across the state and Lutz estimated the portion for this part of the state will be about $500 million and he said they have a project list that needs five to six times the amount available.

“We’re competing with Wichita for some of their big projects,” Lutz said.
Lutz felt the recommendation to widen Highway 400 to four lanes from Leon to the county line probably was not the best use of those funds.

But Will Johnson, county administrator, did say buying right of way along 400 for future widening should be done now before businesses are built on that land.

“Fifty years from now that should be a freeway from Augusta to Wichita,” said Commissioner Jeff Masterson, adding that if they don’t buy the right of way now there will be YMCAs built close to that highway.

Commissioner Peggy Palmer asked how many years they had had projects on this list and she was told at least the last 10 years.

In all, KDOT had 30 priorities for the area.

Masterson suggested making the preservation of the 400 corridor their number one priority.

Commissioner Peggy Palmer thought Butler Road should be added to the list because it is important to the county and she felt that would have an impact on economic development, but that project is not eligible for this funding since it’s not a state highway.

“We do need some help from the state,” Palmer said. “We need to come at it (Butler Road) from all areas and let people know this is a need.”

“We don’t want to confuse what we’re looking at now,” Masterson said.

Commissioner Mike Wheeler added that they were all in agreement Butler Road was a priority, but not for this funding.

Within the county, they decided the top three projects would be the 400 corridor, Ohio Road interchange and Butler Road interchange.

“I think Butler Road should still be number one,” Palmer said.

With further discussion of the regional projects, the commission agreed the first priority would be expanding Highway 54/400 from the Turnpike east enterchange to K-96, with the US 400 cooridor preservation to Augusta as part of that.

The second priority was the 254 interchange at I-35 up north and the third was the 235 and Kellogg Interchange.