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Kansas Governor Touts Rural Freight Technology Project

TOPEKA, KS — Governor Laura Kelly congratulates communities and businesses that will benefit from the deployment of the Great Plains Rural Freight Technology Corridor project on a key freight transport route in western Kansas.

The $14.6-million project will install 100 miles of fiber-optic cable and advanced technologies on a 100-mile stretch of U.S. 83 from southern Finney County to northern Thomas County. The resulting communication system will deliver real-time traffic, weather, and other operational information to commercial trucking to optimize freight routing.

“My administration is expanding innovative technology across rural areas of our state to improve safety, shore up our supply chain, and drive down the costs of transporting goods,” Kelly said. “I commend the public and private collaboration responsible for securing the funding for a project that will improve delivery of agriculture products and other freight along an essential Kansas corridor.”

The Rural Freight Technology Corridor was heralded by Kansas Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam during a visit to the McCarty Family Farms flagship operation on U.S. 83 near Rexford in Thomas County. McCarty Farms’ letter of support helped the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) win a $6.7-million grant from the Federal Highway Administration, one of only 10 projects selected nationwide.

KDOT is providing $7.9 million in matching funds.

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“To deliver for Kansas, transportation and ag need to be good partners,” Lorenz said. “This project is one of several collaborations with Department of Ag, coming from last year’s HomeField Advantage conference where we focused on the intersection of ag, transportation, and technology to make the Kansas economy work better today and into the future. This is a great project that improves freight flow, safety, and could get broadband to rural areas more cost effectively.”

U.S. 83 is a major freight route, particularly for agriculture products, with about 5,000 commercial trucks using the route daily.

Project technology includes sensors and cameras to provide real-time information to drivers such as weather conditions and traffic crashes. Truckers will access the information via hands-free devices. The information will also be available on KDOT’s KanDrive site for anyone to view and for trucking dispatch centers to relay conditions to drivers. The system will upgrade communication with emergency responders.

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