Regional
4:13 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Meredith: Lawmakers in Region Still Pursuing Ideas Intended to Speed Up I-65 Work

If you've been on I-65 in south-central Kentucky in recent years, you know the road has been undergoing a major facelift. A lawmaker from the region says he and his colleagues are continuing to look at ways to speed up the ongoing interstate lane widening.

Representative Michael Meredith of Brownsville tells WKU Public Radio that many legislators from the region remain interested in a possible public-private partnership that could drastically cut down on what they fear will be a 20-year project.

Meredith said while the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has expressed concerns over such a partnership, the state's Legislative Research Commission believes such a union is legal.

"There have been some offers made by some contractors to partially finance that project," said the Edmonson County Republican. "And as lawmakers in this region, we're especially open to those ideas. And there's some money still set aside in the budget to study some of those issues and see if there's a possibility of moving it along a little faster than what it is now."

The most high-profile offer of private help came when Scotty's Contracting of Bowling Green offered to expand the remaining 45 miles of I-65 to six lanes in an estimated five years. The company said that would prevent the state from having to bid out the remaining parts of the project, and avoid selling bonds to pay for it.

When asked by WKU Public Radio if lawmakers are considering drafting legislation regarding the use of public-private partnerships, Rep. Meredith said they believe such an idea is already legal, meaning new laws aren't needed.

The idea of using public-private partnerships to take on major transportation projects is something championed recently by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.