– Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz today visited the site of two connecting Kansas State Parks trail systems to announce the awarding of $13.5 million for 18 projects selected for inclusion in its Transportation Alternatives (TA) program for Federal Fiscal Year 2022-23.

“The projects we announced today will help our communities make the kinds of improvements that will ensure that Kansas remains the best state in the nation to work, live, and raise a family,” Governor Kelly said. “These are projects that make it safer for children to walk and bike to school, they will add sidewalks for Kansans to walk, bike or use a wheelchair, and they continue to build on our efforts to improve access to our state’s many outdoor recreational opportunities.”

The Transportation Alternatives Program funds projects focused almost entirely on planning for and building infrastructure for safe, accessible and connected pedestrian and cycling networks. Becoming a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly state is a top priority for Governor Kelly, KDOT and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

“One of my favorite things about being the Secretary of Transportation is getting to talk to Kansans about how transportation improvements can help support the health, education and economic goals of their communities,” Secretary Lorenz said. “Today we celebrate federal, state and local resources coming together to deliver more for Kansans in all those areas.”

Funds for this program come from the Federal Highway Administration and are currently the primary source of KDOT funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects statewide, including Safe Routes to School. The program also funds surface transportation projects of a historical nature and scenic and environmental projects, including Main Street beautification projects.

Secretary Lorenz said interest in this TA grants cycle was high with 35 applications submitted from eligible project sponsors requesting over $50 million in federal funds. She said KDOT made selections based on criteria such as safety and network improvements, connectivity, cost estimates, project readiness, public support and other factors. Each project sponsor must commit to providing at least 20 percent of the cost of the project as a local cash match.  

The City of Ottawa, the site of today’s announcement, was used as an example by Governor Kelly to demonstrate how a TA grant will extend and provide greater access to two of the state’s most developed and popular trails, the Prairie Spirit Trail and Flint Hills Trails. KDOT and the KDPWT have worked together to improve the Flint Hills Trail that, once complete, will connect six counties, span from Herrington to Osawatomie, and connect to the Prairie Spirit in Ottawa.

“The improvements to the Flint Hills Trail and many other trails would not be possible without the partnership of KDOT and the Federal Transportation Alternative Program,” KDWPT Secretary Loveless said. “We want to express our gratitude for all the partners in making this vision a reality.”

TA funding awarded to KDWPT will be used to eliminate a detour on the Flint Hills Trail just outside of Ottawa that has caused much frustration for travelers. The elimination of this detour covers 2.3 miles of trail and include improvements on three bridges and the construction of another bridge that will cross over the active BNSF railroad tracks.

A full list of TA projects that are selected to receive an award is shown in the table below: