Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

A lobbying campaign being waged by highway contractors has Kansas lawmakers on the defensive.

Billboards put up by the contractors accuse Gov. Sam Brownback and lawmakers of committing “highway robbery” by diverting more than a billion dollars from the transportation department to plug holes in the state budget.

Sen. Jeff Melcher fired back at a Statehouse hearing today Wednesday. The Leawood Republican called the charges a “gross misrepresentation of reality.”

Stephen Koranda

Kansas lawmakers have shifted hundreds of millions of dollars out of the State Highway Fund to help balance the budget in recent years. While this will likely cause some road maintenance projects to be delayed, other upgrades are still moving forward.

One of those projects affects homeowners in northeast Kansas who are convinced the transportation department is now cutting corners because of the state's tight budget. Stephen Koranda traveled to Alta Vista to learn more.

Stephen Koranda

Lawmakers in Congress face a deadline next month to pass legislation funding the nation's highway system.

The current law will expire at the end of May.

Stephen Koranda reports, Republican Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins says one solution is off the table.

Jenkins says Republican leaders in the U.S. House probably won’t consider a hike in the gas tax.

Some other proposals would change tax rules for overseas corporate profits and earmark that money as a highway funding stream. But Jenkins isn’t entire on board with that idea.

A plan to expand U.S. 50 in southwestern Kansas no longer includes leveling a historic rock formation.

U.S. 50 expansion from a two-lane road into a four-lane expressway will use a paved 16-foot median as it passes the Point of Rocks formation, which was once used as a navigational aid for travelers and cowboys along the Santa Fe Trail.

The original plan would have leveled the formation.

But the Kansas Department of Transportation considered other options after discussions with groups, including the Santa Fe Trail Association.

Preservationists are fighting a plan to widen U.S. 50 near Dodge City.

State transportation officials say the four-lane expansion from Dodge City to Cimarron would likely require leveling the "Points of Rock" monument.

It's a steel sculpture of several horsemen sitting on top of a rock outcropping, with the words "Dodge City," and supporters say it's an important landmark along the Santa Fe Trail.

The expansion plans include a 60-foot-wide median between the old and new lanes of the highway, which would take down a big part of the hill where the sculpture stands.


America's highways are littered with loose ends. In Houston, relics of an incomplete inner city project loom on the east and west ends with nothing in-between. In Portland, ramps built to merge with the Mt. Hood Freeway simply drop off into an overgrown field.

In the 1930s, construction began on a highway that would cross Pennsylvania’s unruly terrain, following a path developed by the railroad magnate William Vanderbilt. But by the 60s, the route had bypassed a long segment and a narrow tunnel in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. The highway is now slowly being recaptured by nature.