GIRARD — Weir Mayor Saundra Stricklin knows how important Friday’s announcement by the Kansas Department of Transportation will be for her town. “It’s huge, with uppercase letters all the way and with quotes around it,” Stricklin said. KDOT officials announced that Weir and Girard would be among 11 cities receiving funding from the state for major road and intersection projects in fiscal year 2016 as part of the state’s Geometric Improvement program. In Weir, the project will consist of roughly $700,000 from the state to improve Kansas Highway 103 from Lincoln to Jefferson streets. KDOT Secretary Mike King, who was in Girard on Friday for the announcement, said the project will address drainage issues and street appearance in the area. “The city is not going to have to contribute much money, if at all,” King said. For Stricklin, saying K-103 has drainage issues doesn’t tell the half of the story. Revamping that road, she said, could help the city attract — and keep — businesses in its downtown area. “One thing is it might get business in those buildings, and they won’t have water coming in over the sidewalks and into the buildings. That, in itself, will make businesses more attracted to our city,” she said. The project in Girard is, perhaps, in an even more visible location. The project approved for that city will be at the intersection of Kansas Highways 7 and 47. The total project cost is expected to be around $1.2 million, and KDOT has approved a $750,000 grant to help build the project there. “There are metal plates across the road right now for drainage, but they keep popping loose. They pop up every time they’re hit,” said George Dockery, KDOT area engineer. “We’ll go in, put a drainage system in and widen the [turn] radiuses. We’ll also bring the entrances to nearby properties up to safety standards of today.” The project would also replace the pavement with concrete, expected to last longer. Girard Mayor Kurt Ziegler said the improvements come in an important location and will improve safety not only for drivers, but for the hundreds of schoolchildren that cross that intersection coming and going from class. “Those old steel plates, we’re hoping that all goes away. We’re very fortunate in Girard to have two major highways intersecting here,” he said. “...A lot of children walk to school. In the morning or the afternoon, I don’t know how many children we have walk to grade school or high school. They hit that four-way stop and spread out to the south and east and west. Part of this is to have better crosswalks identified.” Weir and Girard are among the 11 projects in the state approved as part of the Geometric Improvement projects through KDOT. The total cost of the projects is $7.7 million, but the state is putting in $6.25 million. Geometric improvements are for projects that are part of the state highway system but are located within city limits. For example, the planned work at Centennial and Broadway in Pittsburg next year will be funded through the Gemoetric Improvement grants. But for the towns who reap the benefits of these grants, it’s even more important than just a road being fixed. “These improvements to the four-way stop will be a big overall view of our town and what we feel like our town represents. It shows some pride. With the state and Kansas DOT backing and supporting us, it lets us move our town forward.”