"WE WOULD ALL LIKE TO VOTE
FOR THE BEST MAN
BUT HE IS NEVER
I have spent my life beside US-54 Highway. I am still within twenty miles of it where I live here in the hills. As a small boy I remember a big sign at Kellogg and Tyler that looked like the old Holiday Inn signs. It was promoting US-54 Chicago to El Paso. The four lane was built west of Wichita to Viola Road while I was in Grade school. Then they took it to just east of Kingman where it veered left down through town and west through the Kingman Wildlife Area.
Kingman was convinced that losing the highway through town would ruin it. There is still a lot of sentiment that way today. It has also produced revenues to the town for years as one of the premier speed traps in America. Talking to truckers that go coast to coast there was always talk of that speed zone in Kansas down on the roads in Arizona and others.
The fight to keep the highway has virtually been handed down by generation. Thus, delaying the improvements west past Pratt. It also is routed through a swamp crossing the Ninnescah river several times. Funny since most know that moving the route two miles in either direction would have saved millions of dollars in construction and maintenance costs. The savings on bridges would probably have paid for the Pratt loop.
Over the years the US-54 route has been allowed to deteriorate into a rough outdated road that many avoid. Eastern Kansas has suffered a lot of the neglect over the years.
In the South Central Kansas area US-54 is a vital and modern highway that is key to the strong economy. The ties into the Interstate System allows for the access that many industries thrive on.
For a part of US 54's length it is aligned with I-400. The interstate through the southern part of Kansas that was never built. I-400 is an entire story unto itself. As I call it "the politicians interstate".
Being in the center of the country Kansas is a great cross roads. The interstates were mostly built in a North-South East-West direction. It is the Highways like US-54, 56, 50, and K-96 to provide those easy connections to the Interstates and surrounding states.
Several years ago the then Representative from Kansas, who is running to gain his old seat back, made an announcement that was made on national TV. At least it looked like a national statement at the time. The announcement was that the bill had passed out of the congress to rebuild US-54 across Kansas from Ft. Scott to the Oklahoma line south of Liberal as all four lane. It was an exciting announcement at the time.
In the years after when his staff would come to town for 'Town Hall Meetings' I would always ask what happened to the US-54 HIGHWAY ACT? I would always get stares like they never heard of it. And I would always get a form letter congratulating me on participating in the town hall. But never any answer.
'Well there they go again' making the highways a political football.
NEXT TIME US-400 THE POLITICIANS HIGHWAY.