transportation

OxBlue/BuildKCI

The coronavirus pandemic is causing one of the worst aviation upheavals in history, and Kansas City International Airport has seen its flight and passenger numbers plummet. Airlines serving Kansas City have cut their flights by more than 35% and many planes have very few passengers.

So what does that mean for KCI’s financial health and the future of its $1.5 billion new terminal construction project?

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s transportation plan isn’t as bold as those that came before it.

Since the 1990s, Kansas has spent tens of billions of dollars on three successive 10-year programs. Each required a tax increase and launched with a commitment to complete a long list of new building projects.

But Kelly, a Democrat who won election on a promise to restore the state’s finances, isn’t proposing a bunch of new projects. And she isn’t seeking a tax increase to help pay for her plan.

A Delta Airlines Boeing 777
Delta Airlines

Officials at Eisenhower National Airport are urging people to prepare for an increased volume of passengers when traveling during the holiday season.

Jay Brainard, Transportation Security Administration security director for Kansas, says the Wichita airport will see a spike in the number of travelers they screen. He says the week before Thanksgiving is even busier for traveling than the week before Christmas.

"Here at Wichita, on average we screen about 2,600 people a day," Brainard says. "During the busy holiday time, that number is going to exceed 3,300."

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

LINDSBORG, Kansas — The city-owned utility here wants to sell more electricity to the 3,500 people in town.

So it bought a $40,000 Tesla Model 3 sedan. It wants to show that getting around in an electric car can make sense.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Andrew Crane relies heavily on public transportation.

He takes the bus from his home in west Wichita to downtown, often with his guide dog, Vaughn.

But the trip isn’t easy to navigate: Route maps aren’t available in Braille, and many bus stops aren’t clearly marked.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Department of Transportation officials outlined plans Wednesday for putting a state highway program abandoned by former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback back on track.

Years of lean budgets prompted annual raids of the state highway fund. With more than $2 billion siphoned off since 2011, it became known as the “bank of KDOT.”

“By reducing transfers from the state highway fund, we move closer to closing the bank of KDOT,” Kelly said at a news conference staged at the transportation agency.

When Kansas State University Professor Sunanda Dissanayake and other researchers studied traffic fatalities in Kansas, they expected to find that more people had died on the roads.

After all, the state had increased speed limits on some highways to 75 miles per hour. Higher speeds lead to more severe crashes. But they did not expect such a deadly result.

Kansas News Service/File photo

The next head of the Kansas Department of Transportation is looking to invest more in maintenance of the highway system and rebuild agency staff.

Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly has picked Julie Lorenz as interim head of KDOT.

Lorenz will be taking the helm after years of lawmakers diverting road funding to balance the state budget. She hopes that will slow, but said the state’s finances are still recovering.

Thomanication / Flickr Creative Commons

AAA's annual travel forecast shows millions of people are expected to take a trip this Memorial Day weekend.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Frontier Airlines announced Tuesday that it’s returning to Wichita after five years away.

Frontier will offer nonstop flights to and from Denver three days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays — starting Aug. 30.

The low-cost airline ended its daily flights in Wichita in 2012, citing underperformance.

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