Patrick Richardson

Managing Editor

FORT SCOTT — Kansas Highway 7 from Columbus to Cherokee is in for a face lift Governor Sam Brownback announced at a press conference in Fort Scott Wednesday.

The project is one of several in the T-Works program in Southeast Kansas. In Cherokee County Highway 166/ U.S. 400 from Baxter Springs to Interstate 44 will also be receiving a face lift and will be widened from two lanes to four.

K-7 will be repaired, undermined areas will be filled and shoulders added.

The repairs and expansions are slated to begin between 2014 and 2020.

State Rep. Doug Gatewood, (D-Columbus) said the announcement is good news.

“It’s a public safety issue,” he said of K-7. “There are 4,000 cars a day up and down that road and there’s no margin for error.”

Columbus Chamber of Commerce Director Jean Pritchett was equally pleased.

“It’s nice they’re finally taking a look at it and deciding it needs repair and a shoulder,” she said. “I’m very pleased … it’s needed.”

Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand was also happy about the project announcements.

“It’s exciting news,” he said. “Finally Cherokee County is getting some attention.

“Highway 7 has been in sad shape for a long time.”

He said the additional lanes on Highway 166 could be a boon to Baxter Springs as well.

“I think honestly it’s going to depend on how Baxter responds,” he said. “It will definitely increase traffic flow.”

Despite the time frame, Gatewood said he expects the projects will go forward.

“They’ve promised us this project and we’ve already spent money on preliminary engineering,” he said.