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House Advances Partial KDOT/KTA Merger

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a limited merger between the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Turnpike Authority, which manages the 236-mile toll road.

The bill would allow KDOT to contract with the KTA and find efficiencies. Funds from tolls could be used to make repairs on roads connected to the turnpike, but only if they're within 10 miles. Some critics questioned the proposal to connect the two agencies. But Representative Mark Hutton, a Wichita Republican, said the bill wasn't a takeover of the turnpike.

“This bill before us today does not eliminate the Turnpike Authority board," Hutton said. "It retains the board’s current makeup, and its authority to control expenditures, establish fares and manage the road as they see fit outside of the political arena.”

Governor Sam Brownback had initially proposed a complete merger of the KTA and KDOT, saying it would create significant efficiencies.