Port Authority may work on transportation study

John Richmeier

It looks like the Leavenworth County Port Authority may be tasked with overseeing a regional transportation for the county.

Earlier this week, Port Authority Chairman Greg Kaaz submitted a letter to county commissioners suggesting they do a regional transportation study and land mass study.

Harland Russell, who is the president of the Port Authority’s partner organization, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, made a similar recommendation in a separate letter to commissioners.

The issue came up when commissioners met Wednesday.

County Administrator Mark Loughry told commissioners it would make sense to have a comprehensive transportation plan. He said this would require involvement from the cities within the county. He said much of the traffic in the county is inside of the cities.

Commissioner Mike Stieben asked about the county setting up a task force, something that had been suggested in Kaaz’s letter.

Loughry suggested that instead of forming a new committee, the commission could rely on the Port Authority, which already has representation from county’s major cities.

“I think this falls within their purview,” he said.

Loughry said the Port Authority can come to the county to seek funding for the study and also approach the cities for funding.

Kaaz said the Port Authority is willing to take on these duties. But he said the Port Authority’s staff does not have the level of transportation expertise that exists in the county government.

Kaaz said he would like for the Port Authority to utilize the expertise of the county’s Public Works Department.

He also said it is important for the county to show leadership in the project.

Loughry said it would make sense for the county staff or a city’s staff to provide assistance in soliciting engineering firms to work on the study.

“Our staff has the expertise in that,” he said.

Loughry said the county has old proposals for traffic studies. He suggested Bill Noll, the county’s infrastructure and construction services director, can meet with Port Authority board members and provide information from the old proposals.

He said this will give the members of the Port Authority board an idea of how much a study will cost.

Loughry suggested the Port Authority can then approach the city governments to determine their level of support.

Kaaz said Thursday that the Port Authority may have a study session with Noll in January.

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