Officials react to idea of merging KDOT, turnpike

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - For more than 50 years, the Kansas Turnpike has been a major transportation artery, carrying thousands of commuters between the Kansas City metro area and the Oklahoma border.

It's also been maintained by an independent agency outside of the state Department of Transportation -- something Gov. Sam Brownback wants to change.

His proposal, first announced during the State of the State address, would merge the Kansas Turnpike Authority into the Transportation Department. But that's raising questions about the turnpike's future and the possibility of Kansas building new toll roads.

Legislators say the turnpike is a Kansas gem that shouldn't be diminished in the spirit of finding efficiencies. They also fear the proposal could ultimately divert future money away from the turnpike.

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