Investing in and improving our infrastructure and transit
Several of our departments, agencies and offices work together to ensure roads and bridges in the unincorporated parts of the county are well maintained, wastewater and stormwater are handled and treated properly, transit customers benefit from a seamless regional system and pilots and passengers fly in and out of two of the state’s busiest airports as safely and efficiently as possible.
Moving forward through…
...improving county travel by road, rail and air
The Johnson County Airport Commission continued to make improvements at the New Century AirCenter and Johnson County Executive Airport. Most notably, a $5.6 million Airport Improvement Program grant from the Federal Aviation Administration allowed for the complete rebuild of Taxiway Bravo at the Johnson County Executive Airport using only federal funds. In addition, more than $400,000 in grants from the Kansas Department of Transportation will fund the replacement of the several-decades-old electrical vault that serviced airfield lighting at Johnson County Executive Airport, as well as maintenance materials for both airports.
Johnson County’s airports experienced a hangar building boom in the last few years that continued into 2022. At New Century a large 30,000 foot hangar is under construction by Dodson International which should be completed this year; Butler National built a second large hangar recently at 22,400 feet and just finished the re-construction of the office space connected to their original hangar; a two bay 14,000 foot hangar was completed in 2022; and a ground lease for another 24,500 foot hangar was approved in 2022. At Johnson County Executive Airport, we saw the transition of five of its larger hangars to new ownership groups and a new ground lease was approved for an additional 30,000 foot hangar to be built in 2023 by the Kansas City Aviation Center.
2022 saw some substantial changes for our transit program. In April, the board voted to return day-to-day management of Johnson County Transit from the Kansas City Transportation Authority back to the county – falling within Public Works. JCT remained part of the regional RideKC brand and did not experience a change in the regional service. The transition allowed the county to have more direct oversight of $15.2 million in transit pilot programs authorized by the BOCC in late 2021.
A part of those new pilot programs, Micro Transit increased its service capabilities in July, expanding its service area to Gardner, Edgerton and the Plaza and adding Sunday service. Changes added in 2022 also included increased mid-day service levels, a new route on 87th Street, Saturday service on four existing routes and new complementary paratransit service to support vulnerable populations.
The Public Works department continued its important work in 2022 to maintain, improve and/or replace the county’s roads and bridges, in addition to partnering with cities on major arterial roads through the County Assistance Road System program (also known as CARS). The 2022 program allocated slightly more than $16.8 million for 22 projects in 15 cities. Just over one-half of the program funding was for 18 maintenance projects of existing roadways.
…updating our Stormwater Management Program Policies to align with a new watershed approach
2022 marked the completion of a six year process to develop and implement a strategic plan for stormwater management, approved by the BOCC in 2016. One of the major accomplishments of the plan was transitioning the collaborative process of managing stormwater from a city to a watershed based approach. Final implementation of the plan in 2022 included updating some long-standing policies and procedures. In addition to the creation of Watershed Organizations, the program has diversified the types of projects eligible for funding and updated the methodology used to prioritize projects.
…finding savings and other benefits through collaboration
Johnson County Government leaders and staff strive every day, in countless ways, to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. Collaboration is a key tool in our toolbox to find efficiencies and savings. One strong example from 2022 was a collaboration between Johnson County Wastewater, Johnson County Park and Recreation District and The Parks and Recreation Foundation of Johnson County. After months of work, these groups identified land owned by The Parks and Recreation Foundation of Johnson County to be used for a future Johnson County Wastewater wet weather storage facility, which is part of the Mill Creek sewer system. It will receive excess wet weather flows going to the treatment facility and hold them until the facility has sufficient capacity to treat the water.
Construction of storage on this site will save approximately $50 million, avoid a more disruptive project and protect water quality in our streams and rivers. In addition to being a less invasive and more cost-effective solution, the agencies created a design establishing that the surface area will be restored as prairie and will provide an educational tool to highlight the importance of water quality and prairie restoration to our community.