infrastructure

Nicole Erwin

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao made several stops in Kentucky yesterday. She met with local officials in Bowling Green, Owensboro and Paducah. Chao addressed the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce during its Public Policy Luncheon Thursday.

She is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a President’s cabinet and the only Kentuckian appointed since WWII.

“Kentucky has shaped my perspective during discussions in Washington over the administration’s infrastructure initiative.  Under the President’s infrastructure proposal, rural America will no longer be left behind.” Chao said.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Businesses that have invested in Kentucky’s delayed statewide broadband network are concerned that the budget passed by legislators earlier this week doesn’t provide enough certainty that the state will hold up its end of the public-private partnership.

Under the budget, which is currently being considered by Gov. Matt Bevin, KentuckyWired would be funded as a “necessary government expense,” meaning Bevin would have the choice to fund the project using money from the state’s rainy day fund or in the event of a budget surplus.

Benny Becker

A water system in eastern Kentucky that was on the verge of collapse could soon get much needed improvements. Many Martin County, Kentucky, residents were without water for long periods this winter. The crisis drew attention amid a national discussion about infrastructure priorities, and put a spotlight on the sort of water woes that are all too common throughout Appalachian coal country.

Now nearly $5 million in federal funding is on the way to patch up parts of the Martin County system. But the flow of federal money comes amid lingering concerns about management and spending by local officials, and questions about how Martin County’s water system got into such a state of disrepair.


Ryland Barton

A spokesman for a regional Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office said his agency isn’t as affected by state budget cuts as some other parts of government. But he said the legislature needs to talk about updating the funding model to keep up with technological changes like electric vehicles.

The transportation cabinet relies on a gas tax for the majority of its funding. Because Kentucky has so many interstates that tax often provides the money needed to maintain and update roads and bridges. Spokesman for the state transportation cabinet office in Elizabethtown, Chris Jessie, said lawmakers will have to consider new funding models given the increasing popularity of electric cars.

Mary Meehan

When a Madison County jail task force examined overcrowding in their jails, they found that about 80 percent of the inmates were there on drug related charges. This led the county to look at how a public-private partnerships could help fund a new substance abuse treatment center

Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said the county’s jail is overcrowded and building a new one would cost about $50 million. He said a new jail would need to have 800 beds and it would probably be full or overcrowded in about ten years. Taylor said he didn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to build a new jail without looking at what they could do to reduce recidivism.


Rhonda J Miller

A group of education officials representing districts across the country will be touring a Warren County elementary school Friday to get a close-up look at an energy-saving material used in construction. They’re visiting to learn more about the construction of net zero schools, or schools that produce enough energy on site to cover their needs.

Jennings Creek Elementary will be a net zero ready school, meaning it’s built in a way that allows it to eliminate the cost of energy. The school is one of a many in Kentucky using insulated concrete forms, or ICF, to reduce energy costs. Warren County is home to the nation’s first net zero school--Richardsville Elementary, which opened in 2010.

Becca Schimmel

U.S. Senator Rand Paul said Congressional Republicans are shifting their focus away from health care after several failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The Bowling Green Republican said healthcare is taking a backseat to tax reform this fall.

Sen. Paul expects tax reform to be at the forefront of Congress’ agenda. He said lawmakers need to figure out what government can do to allow businesses to grow and thrive.

“My goal is basically to have more money return to its rightful owners, the people who earned it. We have to have some taxes, we gotta have some government, but I think we need more money to remain in the economy,” Paul said.  

US Army Corps of Engineers

Locks and Dam 52 on the Ohio River in western Kentucky is open to traffic after a week of being closed. The Corps of Engineers reports water is rising and expects the river to return to normal summer levels by the weekend.

The wickets at Dam 52, function like a bathtub to keep water in and establish a navigable level of water. During times of low water, wickets have to be raised individually.

Last week the corps was unable to raise about five wickets near Paducah, creating a hole and further lowering the water to an impassable level. Communications Director Carol Labashosky said they’re continuing work on Dam 52 but a more permanent fix is in progress.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jon Fleshman

Another breakdown at an aging lock and dam has halted river traffic on the Ohio in western Kentucky. It’s the second such interruption in less than a year for a stretch of river that carries some 90 million tons of cargo annually.

“A lot of commerce does go through that section and delays cost the industry money,” Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District public affairs officer Carol Labashosky said. “That’s a very, very important, crucial spot on the Ohio River.”

Nicole Erwin

The impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is reigniting talk about national infrastructure needs. Parts of southern Kentucky recently saw flooding after Harvey moved inland. Kentuckians are facing billions of dollars in water infrastructure needs, and uncertainty on a federal infrastructure spending plan.

 

President Trump has mentioned the need for a one-trillion-dollar national infrastructure investment, but no details have come out. Most of the projects on Kentucky’s infrastructure wish list deal with highways and roads, not water.


Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition Formed

Sep 6, 2017
KENTUCKY INFRASTRUCTURE COALITION VIA FACEBOOK

More than 30 organizations representing interests from manufacturing to farming and engineering are coming together to form a new Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition. 

The aim of the group is to prevent the decline of the state’s multifaceted infrastructure system.

Coalition Chair Juva Barber, who directs Kentuckians for Better Transportation, says the group formed to advocate for and provide solutions to the state’s transportation needs. 

Public Domain

After years of dwindling returns, revenue into Kentucky’s road fund was higher than expected during the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

But state officials say that won’t happen again this year because money gleaned from motor fuels is due to be flat and vehicle registration taxes aren’t expected to surpass projections again.

The road fund finances state road and bridge construction across Kentucky. The fund’s main sources of money are gas tax revenues, which are pegged to the price of gas, and the motor vehicle usage tax, which is paid when someone buys or transfers ownership of a car.

Nicole Erwin

When President Trump picked the Ohio Valley as the setting to promote his infrastructure plan, he also drew attention to an overlooked part of the nation’s transportation system: inland waterways. Agriculture, energy, and manufacturing interests all depend heavily on the Ohio’s aging navigation system.

The president’s speech in Cincinnati cheered many industry leaders who have long been frustrated by costly delays caused by failing locks and dams on the river. But some of the Trump administration’s ideas for changing how the country plans and pays for waterways projects have raised concerns among infrastructure experts.


Despite America's rapt attention on former FBI Director James Comey's testimony, the White House has been observing Infrastructure Week. Infrastructure is one of the only policy areas that could have crossover appeal, but there has been little real movement so far on getting something through Congress.

Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump will be across the river from Kentucky today to promote his infrastructure plan.

And if Trump’s previous remarks are any indication, the plan could be heavily influenced by a Kentuckian who’s been dead for 165 years.

In the early 19th century, Kentucky congressman and later senator Henry Clay proposed a system of high taxes on imported goods to fund improvements like roads, canals and bridges. Trump has compared his own philosophy of protectionism to Clay’s.


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