Did the Kansas Turnpike Authority and Department of Transportation merge after all? As the bill cleared the wary Legislature, its promoters stressed that it was not the full merger that Gov. Sam Brownback had wanted, and the governor said when he signed the bill in April that “there will still be two transportation agencies in Kansas.” But Brownback told the Wall Street Journal in June that Kansas is “combining the turnpike authority with the overall highway department in the state” and told the Pittsburg Morning Sun this month that “we think we’ve got quite a bit of money we can come up with in moving those two organizations together.” The bill says that the secretary of transportation shall serve as the director of operations of the authority and mentions KDOT and KTA contracting with each other, but that the “Kansas Turnpike Authority shall retain its separate identity, powers and duties as an instrumentality of the state.” Maybe the new reality will be made clear at the governor’s Sept. 5 transportation summit at Emporia State University, to be co-hosted by the governor and Transportation Secretary Mike King.
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