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Kansas transportation secretary, deputy secretary resigning ahead of 2023 session

By: - November 30, 2022 8:03 am
Julie Lorenz, who is stepping down as secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, said one of the central accomplishments of her tenure was development of a new 10-year transportation program. The plan will assist with overhaul of the I-70 viaduct in Topeka and assist with economic development in Kansas. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Julie Lorenz, who is stepping down as secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, said one of the central accomplishments of her tenure was development of a new 10-year transportation program. The plan will assist with overhaul of the I-70 viaduct in Topeka and assist with economic development in Kansas. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Transportation’s secretary will return to the private sector after presiding over a period of financial stability at the state agency and implementing a bipartisan 10-year program of investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Julie Lorenz, secretary of KDOT since confirmed in March 2019, also chaired a task force to coordinate federal infrastructure funding flowing into Kansas. Her final day will be Dec. 23.

Lorenz said she was proud of work on the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program, or IKE, which earmarked a minimum of $8 million for all 105 counties in Kansas.

“Thanks to the bipartisan support for IKE, we have rebuilt our infrastructure and modernized how we deliver transportation allowing Kansas to better seize opportunities and meet challenges now and in the future,” she said.

Calvin Reed, KDOT’s director of the division of engineering and design, will serve as interim secretary of transportation.

Meanwhile, KDOT deputy secretary Burt Morey, who serves as state transportation engineer, plans to retire after 30 years in the profession.

“Thanks to our team, we’ve been able to increase highway construction and improve worker safety at the same time, and Kansas is better off because of it,” Morey said.

The administration of Gov. Laura Kelly also committed to completing transportation projects delayed due to state government budget problems under Govs. Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer. For years, hundreds of millions of dollars annually in KDOT funding was diverted to other state priorities.

Kelly, who was reelected to another four-year term in November, said Lorenz was a “visionary” transportation secretary who viewed infrastructure as a way to bring people and communities together in a way beneficial to the economy. KDOT has more than 1,000 infrastructure projects in the works across Kansas.

“Her ability to envision what could be and her determination to build strong coalitions have been essential to our success in closing the ‘Bank of KDOT,’ passing a bipartisan 10-year infrastructure program and coordinating billions of dollars in infrastructure funding,” the governor said.

When nominated to be KDOT secretary in January 2019, Lorenz was at Burns & McDonnell specializing in strategic business consulting and policy development for the transportation industry. Previously, she was KDOT director of public affairs and a special assistant from 2003 to 2011.

Scott Anderson, president of the Kansas Contractors Association and central region president of Summit Materials, said Lorenz was an innovator who involved stakeholders at the state level and in local communities. He said new initiatives, including a program of cost sharing with communities, helped target local transportation needs.

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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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