GIRARD — After hearing last week from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) that Crawford County could have to quickly come up with roughly $1 million to facilitate construction on the Highway 69 project in the Franklin area, the Crawford County Commission discussed the issue further at its March 26 meeting.
Commissioner Jeremy Johnson said he had talked to Rep. Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg), the Kansas Dept. of Commerce, and the office of Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers about getting outside funding to cover the cost, but so far had heard of “no definite action” to assist the county in paying the expense. There might be a way, however, to get it partly covered retroactively “because a million dollars is a lot on short notice,” Johnson said.
Commissioner Bruce Blair said he had also reached out to some local state representatives, adding that he didn’t know if $1 million was an accurate estimate of the Highway 69 project expense, which has to do with the right of way where the highway is being constructed and a sewer district in the Franklin area that the county is responsible for.
Blair said he will soon be getting a map that will show the problem area in clearer detail, although he pulled out a less precise map during the March 26 commission meeting that the county commissioners examined as they discussed the issue.
“There’s conflicting stories on what’s what,” Blair said.
“What they presented last week is only part of it, we don’t know which part,” Blair added. “The total footage doesn’t add up to what they said last week, so it has to be just part of it.”
Commissioner Tom Moody asked if what appeared on the map was more area than the amount discussed in the previous meeting.
“This is way more,” said Blair.
After hearing this from Blair and studying the map, Moody did not appear to be in a good mood.
“They’ve pushed for this four-lane for 25, 30 years, and then they come and tell us we need to have a million dollars in place in two months,” Moody said. “What the hell?”
Moody added that on the other hand, the commission does not want to delay the project.
Johnson agreed, saying that after the project had been planned for so long, the current county commissioners would not want to be “the guys that are like ‘Oh, by the way, this isn’t happening.”
Moody reiterated that “we’re 100 percent behind the project” but said the commission should ask a KDOT representative to come back before the commission next week and clarify what exactly the department is asking the county to pay for.