Following snub, LCDC works to move farther up the ladder
After being snubbed for any of the $24 million of federal stimulus money for transportation projects made available by the Mid-America Regional Council, Leavenworth County Development Corp. officials are making sure it won’t happen again.
Chris Donnelly, who chairs the LCDC’s infrastructure committee, said the county needed to work harder to make itself a bigger player in the metro area.
“I think it’s a trend that the infrastructure committee is working diligently to turn around to where Leavenworth County is no longer on the bottom rung of the ladder, but somewhere farther up,” Donnelly said during Thursday’s LCDC meeting.
LCDC officials said the MARC decision wasn’t their only example. They also pointed to a recent regional meeting in Overland Park where Deb Miller, Kansas secretary of transportation, discussed the last 10 years of the state’s Comprehensive Transportation Program.
After looking at the distribution of program funding in KDOT’s District 1 in the past decade, Donnelly, who attended the meeting, did not like the results.
A report presented at the meeting showed that in the past decade, Leavenworth County had received $95.3 million, or 3.29 percent of the $2.9 billion distributed in the 17-county northeast Kansas district through the state program from 1999 to 2009. This was in comparison to Johnson County, which received $951.7 million, 32.82 percent; Wyandotte County, which received $528.3 million, 18.22 percent; and Douglas County’s $165.3 million, 5.7 percent.
The report Donnelly gave to the LCDC included Miami County, which had received $231.7 million and is part of the Kansas City metro, but is not included in part of the district.
“It basically showed that Leavenworth County didn’t receive a proportionate share compared to surrounding counties and other counties within our district,” he said.
To curb the trend, Donnelly said the county needed to play a bigger role in important MARC committees.
Donnelly proposed more activity in the following areas: MARC board, air quality forum, total transportation policy committee and its aviation and highway subcommittees, Kansas surface transportation program/bridge priorities committee, Kansas transportation enhancements committee, the special transportation-job access partnership, goods movement committee and the bicycle pedestrian advisory committee.
He said he realized that a smaller county such as Leavenworth may not have the personnel resources, but city staffs and elected officials needed to make a bigger effort.
“If we don’t participate equally or as much as we possibly can, we may lose again, as we did with the stimulus discussion,” he said.
John Flower, county commissioner, agreed, but said it wasn’t just about the number of people attending the meetings, but how involved they would get.
“You can have 400 people show up at a committee meeting and it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s whether you’re participating or not. If you’re just going to come and sit, then you might as well stay home.”
Donnelly and LCDC board members agreed that the county needed to make a better effort to have a greater presence with KDOT.