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One of the big debates that has consumed the race for the 3rd Senate District in the Kansas State House has been exactly who was responsible for pushing forward the effort to get cable median barriers on K-10.

On Wednesday, we received a letter from former KDOT Secretary Deb Miller talking about her recollections of  who was responsible in bring cables median barriers to K-10.

Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson played a critical role. So did Sen. Holland.  Both were involved from start to finish in the discussions that led to the installation of new safety barriers in the highway median. Rep. Anthony Brown simply was not. A review of my records and those of others indicate that he rarely if ever attended planning meetings and was not among those working to keep the issue front-and-center on my agenda and the department’s.

The letter was followed up Thursday afternoon by a press release from Sen. Holland’s office.

There were a couple of statements in the letter that were missing from the press release and we wanted to make sure all our readers saw those statements as well.

I want to make it clear that I wrote this letter at Sen. Holland’s request. But I agreed to do so because I believe it is important to clarify the record. I would have done the same for Rep. Brown had the facts of the situation been reversed.

Since the letter was originally titled as a letter to the Editor and to be fair to both candidates are entitled to an equal platform, we provided a copy of the letter to Representative Brown so that he had an opportunity to respond. In his response Brown said:

Let’s be clear here, Mr. Holland is still trying to use the death of a child for political gain. A tragedy should not be used for partisan political gain. 

Previously I made public a letter from the current Secretary of Transportation Mike King showing my efforts to have safety cables installed on K-10. I have official minutes as well as saved email records but do not want to make a family’s tragedy a campaign issue.  (Editor’s Note: You can view a PDF copy of that letter by clicking HERE).

I am astonished that a sitting State Senator would make this tragic death the center piece of his campaign strategy. The letter from former Transportation Sec. Miller even states she wrote the letter at Holland’s request. 

Ms. Miller has a political axe to grind against me as well. I challenged her on several occasions about the out of control spending in her department and her lack of leadership in finding efficiencies. I voted against Ms. Miller’s nearly $1 billion transportation plan that required the largest tax increase in Kansas history to pay it. 

The facts are simple. Mr. Holland’s bill failed in the Legislature. I was able to communicate our community’s desire to have safety cables built to the budget director and Governor’s staff. Because of those efforts the cables are being placed with no additional taxes or fees to pay for them. 

Leadership should not be judged by press releases and TV cameras but by results. My opponent sought cameras and press releases I got results.

Miller was appointed by Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2004 and resigned to take a job with a private company in December 2011.  The decision to place cable barriers on sections of K-10 including the Eudora area was made in November 2011.

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The Kansas Department of Transportation announced this morning that the will proceed with a project to install cable barriers on two sections of K-10.

Deputy Secretary and State Transportation Engineer Jerry Younger, speaking at the Eudora Park and Rec Center, stated that a two mile section of cables will be installed on K-10 stretching from the Church Street to the East 2300 Road interchanges at Eudora and a a mile on either side of the K-7 interchange in Johnson County.

The decision to add the barriers in the two areas of K-10 comes on the recommendation of the K-10 safety committee headed by KDOT District Engineer Clay Adams and Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson.

“It was important that the committee help identify the engineering and social factors that should be considered by KDOT as we make the most appropriate decisions for barrier placement on K-10 and elsewhere in the state. I appreciate the work they’ve done and their input will be important as we move forward,” Younger said.

When asked about the time line for construction of the barriers would begin, Younger stated that the normal time line for KDOT to send a project to bid was 9 months.  Younger added that he hopes that timeline could be sped up for this project but did not want to make any commitments at this time.

“We hope to have actual construction start by late summer 2012,” Younger added.

The project, estimated to cost $800,000, will be funded from the KDOT safety funds.

Mayor Scott Hopson and Deputy Secretary Jerry Younger

“This is a huge step forward,” Mayor Hopson said. “This is more than realistically we thought we could accomplish.  Hopefully, this will save lives. I cannot thank enough all the people involved including Governor Brownback for their assistance on this.”

Younger also said that KDOT will seek to designate the entire length of K-10 as a highway safety corridor.  This action must be done by the state legislature and plans are to proceed with that in the 2012 session which begins in January.  The safety corridor designation provides for more enforcement and increased fines for violations.

Prior to official designation of a safety corridor by the legislature, KDOT is exploring was to add additional law enforcement to K10, including the possibility of providing funding to local law enforcement agencies.

Mother Ali Shutt, along with 2-year-old Courtlynn Shutt

Alison Shutt, mother of 5-year-old Cainan Shutt who was killed in a crossover accident in April, made a brief statement where she thanked all the people include state, county and local officials and citizens who helped support the effort for cable barriers along the highway.

“We would have loved to have seen the whole highway done,” Shutt said. “But we are very happy with the beginning steps of making K-10 safer.”

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Eudora News and Information www.eudorareporter.com

The overlay and mill work project on K-10 that has been ongoing for the last few weeks will impact Eudora this weekend.

According to a release form the Kansas Department of Transportation, the eastbound and westbound entrance/exit ramps at the Church Street interchange will be closed for mill and overlay work beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 21 and will reopen to all traffic at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 22.  Only one set of the Church Street interchange ramps will be closed at a time. When one pair of the interchange ramps are finished and reopened, then the other set of ramps will close.  NOTE: There will be no lane closures on K-10 during this time period.

Advance message boards will alert drivers to the ramp closures. No marked detours will be provided. Drivers should expect minor delays and must use alternate routes during the ramp closures.

This work is part of the project that includes resurfacing all lanes of K-10 in Douglas County in both directions and adding rumble strips to the shoulders of both eastbound and westbound lanes.   The project is still on track, according to KDOT to be completed in early November.

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The project to resurface K-10 and add rumble strips to the medians along K-10 in Douglas County has once again been delayed.

Kansas Department of Transportation Public Affairs Manager Kimberly Qualls stated that the project is now delayed until further notice.

“The contractor (Hamm Contsruction) wants to complete the majority of the I-70/KTA work before they begin the K-10 project, so that they have all resources dedicated to one project at a time,” Qualls said.

The project will include resurfacing the lanes in both directions of K-1o in Douglas County plus widening the shoulders and including rumble strips on all shoulders.

Qualls also stated that the contractor can finish the project by the original scheduled completion date (early November 2011, weather permitting).

Qualls added that KDOT will notify the public a minimum of two days prior to the project starting.

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Last week, it was announced that the project to resurface K-10 in Douglas County would begin on Monday, September 12.  Today, KDOT officials have stated that, due to scheduling conflicts, the K-10 project start date has been moved to Monday, September 19th.

The entire 8.5 mile stretch of K-10 in Douglas County will also be resurfaced and the shoulders will be widened to 10-foot outside shoulders and 6-foot inside/median shoulders.  Rumble strips will be placed on both the interior and exterior shoulders.

According to KDOT spokesperson Kimberly Qualls, the project will start at the eastern city limits of Lawrence and both eastbound and westbound traffic will be reduced to one-lane and the speed limit lowered to 55 mph during work hours on the project.  The press release also states that no work will take place during the peak travel times of 6-9 a.m and 3-6 p.m weekdays. Work will also be suspended on Saturdays when KU has a home football game.  Crews will work primarily during the overnight hours, though some daytime hours may be used for repaving and reconstruction.  The project is expected to be completed by early November 2011.

Drivers along K-10 should expect delays and are encouraged to find alternate routes if possible during the construction project.

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