Federal, state and local officials, along with more than 30 business owners, were in the city of Marion Dec. 30 for the new roundabout ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation Mike King discussed highlights and statistical data about the roundabout.
?We build roundabouts for safety, and we have not had a fatality at any of those locations anywhere in the state,? he said.
The project?s shoofly design is the first of its kind in Kansas and probably in the nation, he said.
?We are excited to see where this will take us.?
King said he believes people sometimes forget that highways connect Kansans to where they choose to live and work.
?That?s why we have (Kansas) roads every 30 miles north and south and 30 miles east and west,? he said.
King said the quality of roads in Kansas is as important as quantity.
?Kansas roads are No. 1 in the nation on our Interstates and in the top five of about every other category,? he said.
Roads also play a vital role in economic development, King added.
?It?s about being able to provide industry of all sizes and shapes, rail, heavy super loads, or regular vans carrying goods and services,? he said.
With 1.2 million pounds over 300-foot long super loads, the center circle and shoofly design allow versatility to get vehicles to and from Emporia to the McPherson refinery.
King talked about careers with KDOT.
?We focus on careers in KDOT,? he said. ?Building roads is not for us, it is for all Kansans. We want to see our students get involved in the transportation area.?
King highlighted occupations such as design consultants, engineers and others who help in every facet of KDOT?s work.
Marion Mayor Todd Heit?schmidt thanked everyone for attending, but focused praise on one person in particular.
?I want to give special recognition to our first responder Gene Winkler, who started this about four to five years ago,? he said. ?I think without Gene?s (efforts) in getting support, this project wouldn?t have happened.
?This goes to show that we can do those projects, and we have many more that we look forward to working with KDOT.?
Heitschmidt said the roundabout is about saving lives, economic development and the way things are supposed to work.
?While this hasn?t been the smoothest transition to get construction done,? he said, ?it?s all part of it and we all lived through it.?
Marion County Commissioner Randy Dallke spoke for Commission Chair Dan Holub, who was unable to attend.
?For us, having two roundabouts within 15 miles of one another in Marion County is a fantastic deal,? Dallke said. ?Safety is number one with me and I am glad to know safety is number one with the state.
?All-in-all, we appreciate what the state has done for us, and if there?s anything we can work together on, we appreciate it in Marion County.?
Others attending the ceremony included Joe Pimple, general manager of Sauder Fabrication Inc., Emporia; U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran?s district representative Mike Heldstab and State Sen. Rick Wilborn.
Other KDOT?officials included Joe Palic of Marion and David Greiser, public affairs manager in Salina.
Local officials included Marion City Administrator Roger Holter and Marion Chamber President Don Noller.
Noller said the roundabout ribbon cutting was probably the last Chamber function before it disbanded permanently.
King thanked Marion County citizens, too, for allowing KDOT to use their tax dollars so that it could also reinvest in other communities around the state.