Two Johnson County programs will contribute more than $32 million to improve roadways and stormwater systems in 2021. Yesterday, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners approved the County Assistance Road System (CARS) Program and the Stormwater Management Program (SMP) for the upcoming year. Both programs were authorized in separate votes by the board.
“These two programs which improve the major roads in Johnson County and maximize flood control efforts are strong examples of county and city collaboration for the benefit of county residents,” said Chairman Ed Eilert, Johnson County Board of County Commissioners. “These programs rely on committees, made up of county and city representatives, who evaluate proposed projects and make recommendations to our Board for approval.”
The 2021 CARS Program consists of $12,893,000 to help fund 13 projects in 13 cities. Unique to this year due to budget considerations, the program will only fund the highest priority project for each city that made a submission. Examples of projects include a major maintenance mill and overlay project in Merriam, a system management roundabout construction project in De Soto and capacity street-widening in Lenexa.
In addition to the traditional city projects, the 2021 program funding also includes a 14th project, which is the second half of the local share funding for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) capacity improvements to Interstate 35 at 75th Street. The first half was part of the 2020 CARS program.
CARS funding comes from a combination of a revenue from a gas tax and county support. The 2021 County Assistance Road System (CARS) Program expenditures have been reviewed and recommended to the Board of County Commissioners by the CARS Technical Review Committee which includes representation from Johnson County cities.
The CARS program was formalized in 1983 to construct, maintain and improve local major transportation corridors in partnership with the cities. Each year, cities submit a five-year road improvement plan to Johnson County Government. Each submitting city receives funding for its top priority project – and using a scoring system to rank the remaining projects, additional projects can be included in rank order if funds are available. The CARS Program funds up to 50% of a project’s eligible construction and construction inspection costs. Cities are responsible for other project costs such as design, right-of-way and utility relocation.
Stormwater Management Program
The total funds authorized for the 2021 Stormwater Management Program (SMP) are set at $19,226,500, including $11,715,000 for watershed improvement projects and $4,710,000 for system assessment and replacement projects.
The SMP annually provides funding for stormwater planning, technical assistance, and capital projects in Johnson County in partnership with the cities. The program also cooperates with other cities in the Kansas City region as part of the regional stormwater system. This program is now based on a watershed approach as opposed to the former approach of individual cities applying for funding.
The 2021 SMP expenditures fund projects focused on flood risk reduction; condition assessment and replacement of failing stormwater conveyance systems; voluntary home buyouts (a new program component); and water quality improvement and preservation projects. The expenditures will also fund several on-going efforts such as the countywide rain and stream gauge network and continue to provide assistance to cities to meet the requirements of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.
The program is funded by a 1/10-cent sales tax authorized by the Kansas Legislature in 1988 and approved by the Board of County Commissioners for the purpose of funding stormwater projects. Johnson County was the only county to implement the tax. These funds, dedicated to stormwater management, allow the county to create an annual stormwater management plan and provide 50% of funding for eligible design and construction projects in the county and cities in Johnson County.
The board created the Stormwater Management Program and the Stormwater Management Advisory Council in the early 1990s. The council helps coordinate stormwater efforts and advises the board on stormwater management-related issues.
Both the CARS and Stormwater Management programs are managed by the Johnson County Department of Public Works. Details on the individual CARS and SMP approved programs are available here.