TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed legislation late last week to launch a new, 10-year transportation program she and other officials see as a $10 billion stimulus to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
The program will use existing funds to pay for $1 billion a year in projects, with projects designated every two years. The measure allows the state to expedite $300 million worth of big projects with a fast-track, designing-while-building process.
“Investing in Kansas’ infrastructure means putting people to work,” Kelly said, adding that the program will “help the Kansas economy recover when this public health pandemic passes.”
The program commits $85 million over 10 years to improving the infrastructure for broadband service. The state also can build three toll roads, though it is likely to add toll lanes to existing congested highways.
The program is named the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program after President Dwight Eisenhower, a Kansan who pushed for the U.S. interstate highway system.
Legislators and governors have regularly raided highway funds to patch holes elsewhere in the state budget, and there’s no guarantee they won’t again. But supporters said a new program at least creates “shovel-ready” projects that could be financed with federal dollars.