News Briefs

Foundation estimates 50-year lease of Kansas Turnpike could net $1.1 billion

By: - August 25, 2020 9:39 am
Reason Foundation estimates Kansas could net $1.1 billion over 50 years by leasing out the Kansas Turnpike, which runs from Oklahoma to Kansas City, Mo. In this image, Sen. Rick Billinger, Mary Eisenhower, and Kansas Cabinet secretaries Brad Loveless and Julie Lorenz participate in 50th anniversary celebration of Interstate 70, which isn't part of the turnpike. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

Reason Foundation estimates Kansas can net $1.1 billion over 50 years by leasing out the Kansas Turnpike, which runs from Oklahoma to Kansas City, Mo. In this image, Sen. Rick Billinger, Mary Eisenhower, and Kansas Cabinet secretaries Brad Loveless and Julie Lorenz participate in 50th anniversary celebration of Interstate 70, which isn’t part of the turnpike. (Submitted/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A think tank organization that champions government privatization estimates Kansas would likely net $1.1 billion by leasing the Kansas Turnpike for a 50-year period.

The Reason Foundation’s report Tuesday indicated the range of revenue to the state of Kansas could be $860 million to $1.4 billion. The libertarian-oriented foundation headquartered in Los Angeles suggested the cash could be used by the state to financing infrastructure, pay down debt or to reduce unfunded liability in the pension system.

“The bottom line is that the value of the Kansas Turnpike system could be used to greatly improve the state’s fiscal condition,” said Robert Poole, author of the study and director of transportation at Reason Foundation.

The Kansas Turnpike is a 236-mile stretch of highway that runs from the Oklahoma border to Kansas City, Mo. It passes through Wichita, Topeka, Emporia and Lawrence. It is owned and operated by the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

In recent years, the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road have been among a handful of U.S. toll roads placed in long-term leases. Both leases are held by consortium of pension funds.

The Reason Foundation is dedicated to “values of individual freedom and choice, limited government and market-friendly policies.” The foundation has produced an annual report ranking each state’s transportation system on cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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