Don’t get excited yet, but get excited.

Don’t get excited yet, but get excited.
That seemingly contradictory statement is the feeling most local officials have after half a million dollars in funding for the development of U.S. Highway 69 made its way through the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., placed the $500,000 funding on the Housing and Urban Development Transportation Appropriations Bill, which passed the House. The $500,000 is noted for use on a corridor study for Bourbon and Crawford counties.
“We just got the funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation for the preliminary engineering studies for the Fort Scott to Arma section,” said Jim AuBuchon, U.S. Highway 69 Association executive director. “With the preliminary engineering and environmental studies, those have to be done prior to any right of way acquisition and before any construction starts.
“These funds could be used to supplement that. Or it could be used on the city of Fort Scott Corridor Study underway. These are just a couple of possibilities.”
AuBuchon said the funds came after the U.S. Highway 69 Association made a trip to Washington to lobby legislators for Highway 69 funding.
However, the bill has only passed the House. It has yet to pass through the Senate or the president’s desk. With the Senate likely to head to August recess soon, it is unlikely the funds will make their way to Kansas before the fall, at least.
“I think the possibility is pretty strong that it will pass,” AuBuchon said. “It has passed muster out of the House Transportation Committee and the full House voted for it. Any time that happens, it’s a major hurdle. The chances are good that it will clear the Senate. If those two things happen, the likelihood of the President signing it is near 100 percent. It’s very likely this will pass through.”
The 69 Association is also waiting on news about potential funding coming from the desk of U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. However, news on that front is unlikely to come until at least later in the fall, if not early next year.
As for the half-million dollar funding coming soon to the Bourbon-Crawford area, KDOT has not decided at this time how to spend the money, since it is still in the legislative process.
But AuBuchon is still pleased to see funds attached to U.S. Highway 69.
“It’s really good to see that Congresswoman Jenkins has responded to a request. She is pretty picky about what projects she undertakes,” AuBuchon said. “You have to be clearly in the public interest. [Highway] 69 certainly meets that criteria. For her to take that step on our behalf is just wonderful.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.