TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials said Friday that the federal government apportioned $2 million of the state's transportation funding to go toward enhancing its recreational trails, and that even though Kansas was opting out of a federal trails program, all of that money would go for that purpose.
The funding is more than the $1.3 million Kansas had specified it wanted. It comes days after the Kansas Department of Transportation said it was joining only Florida in opting out of a provision of the federal highway funding law that gives states money to develop trails.
KDOT spokesman Steve Swartz said the agency never intended to abandon the trails system. By opting out of the federal program the state would still receive funds, but Kansas officials would be able use part of the money for other needs.
"It looked like the wrong message was being attached to this decision," Swartz said. "In this case, opting out means we were gaining flexibility and more money."
The state needs flexibility in spending transportation dollars because its overall money from the federal transportation law dropped from $392 million in fiscal 2011 to $366 million this fiscal year, he said. The trail money is included in the overall state allocation.
Swartz said KDOT will send all of the money to the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for use on trails. Under the program guidelines, the state can use the federal money to purchase new trails, equipment to construct or maintain the trails or refurbish existing trails.
"KDOT and KDWPT worked to come up with a way to prioritize the amount of money that should be applied to recreational trails and determined that $2 million is the appropriate level," said Transportation Secretary Mike King. "This will help move ecotourism forward in Kansas."
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