Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Commissioner Buhler: Willard Bridge Meeting with Tranportation Secretary 'Went Well'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Commissioner Buhler: Willard Bridge Meeting with Tranportation Secretary 'Went Well'

Article excerpt

Shawnee County Commissioner Shelly Buhler said she thought her Wednesday meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to discuss getting federal funding to replace the decaying Willard Bridge "went well."

Buhler said she and Foxx held a fairly short meeting in Wichita during a rare visit the secretary made to Kansas to take part in a roundtable forum with aviation industry stakeholders in the Wichita suburb of Park City.

"It's not often that you get to represent your constituents and their concerns about such an important project directly to the secretary of transportation of the United States, and I was honored to be able to do that," Buhler said.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran's office arranged Wednesday's meeting, for which Buhler drove alone to Wichita to represent Shawnee County's government.

Foxx met with Buhler at a time when Shawnee County is competing with other government entities throughout the nation to acquire a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant to bridge a funding gap Shawnee County faces for a project to replace the Willard Bridge.

The bridge is located along Shawnee County's western boundary with Wabaunsee County on N.W. Carlson Road, about 2.7 miles north of Interstate 70. It was built in 1955 and widened in 1983. Concerns over its structural integrity prompted commissioners earlier this year to reduce the bridge's weight limit to 9 tons.

The bridge's sufficiency rating, which measures its fitness on a scale of 0 to 100, was above 61 until 2012. It dropped to 50.7 in 2013, and to 23.7 earlier this year.

Staff members for Foxx and Moran were among those present for Wednesday's meeting, which was held in an office of Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research at the former Kansas Coliseum. …

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