Bill includes $20M for area transportation, life sciences

Kansas City,MO (12-23-2005)

From Kansas City Business Journal

A $453 billion defense appropriations bill that received final approval from the U.S. House on Thursday contains more than $20 million for research projects expected to boost transportation and life sciences initiatives in the Kansas City area.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had helped secure financing for hundreds of millions of dollars of defense appropriations that will benefit Kansas.

The bill awaits President Bush's signature.

The appropriations that will benefit the Kansas City area directly are:

$2.6 million for biosecurity research aimed at enhancing soldier food safety. A collaborative effort involving Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, the research project seeks to develop technologies for quickly detecting food contaminants.

Because K-State recently became a Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute stakeholder organization, the project also will boost the region's initiative to become a national leader in bioscience research.

$17.5 million for SensorNet, a research project involving the University of Kansas, the Oak Ridge National Research Lab in Tennessee and other partners.

"SensorNet supports the real-time detection, identification and assessment of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats to the United States," Roberts' office said in a written release.

Victor Frost, director of the Information and Telecommunications Technology Center at KU, said the portion of the SensorNet project KU is participating in involves development of systems for monitoring sealed rail freight containers continuously during transit.

Frost said those systems could be used to secure the huge freight volumes expected to start moving along a new rail freight corridor being developed between Kansas City and ports on the west coast of Mexico.

The new corridor, served by Kansas City Southern lines, is being developed in response to growing Asian imports and congestion at Long Beach and other West Coast ports in the United States.

Wichita was the biggest Kansas beneficiary of the defense bill, Roberts office said.

Among appropriations that will benefit the Wichita area are $333 million for a Joint Primary Aircraft Training System involving JPATS aircraft manufactured by Raytheon Aircraft in Wichita; $581 million for UH-60 "Black Hawk" helicopters, which include components manufactured by two Wichita companies; $491 million for the Airborne Laser Missile Defense System involving Boeing's Wichita facility; and $964 million for the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft that involves Boeing as a partner.

The 2006 U.S. defense budget also includes $3.8 billion for bird flu preparedness, $29 billion for hurricane relief, $50 billion for the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and a 3.1 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel.

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