Fatal crashes on rural Kansas roads spur new safety efforts

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TOPEKA, Kansas (KSNT) – Safety efforts are underway to deal with fatalities on rural Kansas roads.

People can hear a lot about accidents in urban areas, usually when people are trying to cross the street, but hundreds of thousands of accidents happen on rural roads in the United States every year. In Kansas, this is something Tod Salfrank, who oversees several local project units at the Kansas Department of Transportation, said they were working hard to prevent.

“Here in Kansas, we have a large percentage of accidents, fatalities and disabling accidents that occur on the local highway system,” said Salfrank.

In 2018, there were nearly 65,000 traffic accidents in the state; 365 were fatal. People driving on rural roads face the same risk. The state announced in May that $ 8.5 million would be paid to 16 counties in the state to deal with accidents on rural roads in high-risk areas.

The push for safety improvements comes as the state has also invested millions of federal dollars in highway and highway repairs.

A project to replace the Polk-Quincy Viaduct, part of the I-70 that bypasses downtown Topeka, was announced in early July. This is a dangerous part of the highway, which has been the source of several accidents in the state.

The state is spending $ 214 million to repair the curve. An additional $ 20 million will be donated locally. Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz made the announcement along with a series of transportation plans.

“We are announcing that more than three quarters of a billion dollars will be spent on construction so that we can improve the lives of the Kansans through security and improve economic development,” said Lorenz.

Kansas’ High-Risk Rural Roads program has been carrying out construction projects every year since 2012. All 16 counties are receiving federal dollars for projects scheduled to start in 2023. Salfrank said he saw the money being used at wisely and hope these funds will help make essential local roads safer.

“The number of lives that are saved is kind of a no-brainer,” Lorenz said. “It’s definitely beneficial, and these improvements are making a difference. “


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