Dueling Kan. Projects Both Use Stimulus Money

Thu June 25, 2009 - Midwest Edition
CEG




COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) Federal stimulus dollars may pay to rebuild a short stretch of a southeast Kansas highway twice this year.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has awarded Cherokee County $760,000 in stimulus funds to resurface a stretch of what’s known as old Highway 96 between the small town of Crestline and the Missouri border, about 5 mi. to the east.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Plans to spend between $10 million and $25 million in stimulus dollars to clean up contaminated mining sites in Cherokee County and Jasper County, Mo. Trucks working on the EPA project will use about a mile of the same road that Cherokee County is resurfacing — perhaps at the same time. EPA officials said its contractor will be required to repair whatever damage is done.

“It really highlights the complexity of these types of projects,” David Bryan, an EPA spokesman, said of the schedules for the two projects. “There’s a lot of discussion and a lot of cooperation with local governments.”

County and federal officials said the double payment for road repairs may occur because the two pots of stimulus dollars must be spent immediately.

But Emily Wheeler, a project manager for the EPA’s Cherokee County project, said the federal agency plans to work closely with the county.

“We may have to use alternate haul routes,” she said.

The county’s road-resurfacing project is expected to start this summer and be finished by October, said Cherokee County Commissioner Pat Collins.

Wheeler said the EPA’s cleanup project will start in the summer or early fall.

An official with the EPA’s field office in Galena, notified the Cherokee County Commission that the EPA’s contractor will be using the newly improved road.