Rep. Kevin Yoder said he’s seeking to help fix traffic congestion problems on U.S. 69 by investing in lane expansion, and he’s asking the federal government for assistance on the project.
At Yoder’s invitation, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao paid a visit to Overland Park Monday to take a tour of the area’s transportation infrastructure and participate in a closed roundtable discussion with community leaders about transportation needs. On a tour of U.S. 69, he told Chao that the growth in Overland Park and surrounding communities calls for the need to further invest in transportation.
“I’ve had a chance to visit with the secretary countless times over the past couple of years about the role of transportation and how it’s a backbone of what makes Johnson County and Wyandotte County strong,” Yoder said. “When we have that investment, it ensures that we have development, we have job creation, and one of the things that our citizens constantly remark is that lack of traffic is one of the reasons they wanted to live here. It’s part of their quality of life, so we want to keep that strong.”
Adding two more lanes to U.S. 69
In public remarks before the roundtable, which was closed to the press, Yoder said he wants to see U.S. 69 expand from four lanes to six from 135th Street to 119th Street. He’s also pushing for investment in Turner Diagonal Freeway in Kansas City, Kan.
“What I want the secretary to know: This is a growing community, (and) transportation is critical to keeping that growth going,” Yoder said, adding that transportation creates revenue for further re-investment. “This affects job growth, and of course we need investment in access to the off ramp so we can get more investment in 159th, 167th, on down the road.”
The stretch of U.S. 69 south of 119th experiences frequent backups during rush hour.
Though Chao’s visit was official state business and not a campaign stop, she went out of her way to praise the four-term incumbent as “an unwavering champion” of investment in transportation.
Chao said that as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, she can’t be everywhere at once, but Yoder has advocated strongly on behalf of District 3’s transportation infrastructure needs.
“We can see things on maps; we can see roads and bridges on paper,” Chao said, “but it’s another thing to be here in person. So I just really want to commend all of you for having such a wonderful representative like Congressman Yoder who works so well with the Department of Transportation.”
Chao said the U.S. Department of Transportation has previously invested in District 3, adding $5.6 million in Johnson County Executive Airport.
“We appreciate he and his staff educating the Department of Transportation on the needs of this district,” Chao said of Yoder.
When asked if Yoder had frustrations with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s delay to act on its infrastructure plan, he said U.S. Congress has been supportive of transportation plans, such as passing the THUD bill to add several billion dollars in new funding to transportation.
“This Congress is very supportive of transportation; we want to make that those dollars come back here to the third district of Kansas,” he said.
Chao is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The two have been married since 1993.