Guest Editorial: Local road construction hurts Osage County businesses

By State Senator Anthony Hensley

As a longtime supporter of good roads and safe highways, I am always pleased to know that our state tax dollars are funding projects such as the one on Highway 268 in Osage County. Unfortunately, due to a lack of communication from the Kansas Department of Transportation, a number of businesses have been put in peril, and as many as 50 jobs have been negatively affected.

In September, a member of my staff went down to Osage County to meet with a number of business owners directly impacted by this project. It was brought to our attention that it started with little to no warning and without any consideration for the businesses. In fact, these business owners had to demand a meeting before a representative from KDOT met with them. By that time the project was well underway. The representative allegedly made a number of comments that were insensitive, if not downright out of line.

I believe that if KDOT had reached out to these business owners well in advance, they could have learned of the need to include in their project a reasonable detour to allow traffic to flow in order to avoid a loss of seasonable income. Or, they could have at least provided these business owners with an opportunity to prepare for the loss that has since resulted in financial hardship for many.

I also believe that KDOT owes those who have been affected an explanation as to why there may have been up to two weeks where no construction was being done at all as well as why a member of their staff would be insensitive to the fact that the livelihood of a number of individuals has been put in jeopardy.

Fortunately, I have since met with Mike King, KDOT Secretary, to discuss this situation. He was very accommodating and heard all of the concerns. He instructed his staff to monitor this project and to push for its completion.

It is my hope that Kansans will continue communicating with their elected officials in order to avoid this kind of situation in the future.

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