infrastructure

Flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky’s statewide broadband internet project, KentuckyWired, will be complete by mid-2019, according to Gov. Matt Bevin.

The $324 million public-private project is a collaboration between the state and private partners, who will operate and maintain the network for 30 years, charging the state about $28.5 million and up per year. After 30 years, Kentucky will own the network.

During a news conference Friday, Bevin said the project will help make Kentucky the “hub of excellence for America.”

“It cannot happen without broadband, it cannot happen without a strong technological infrastructure,” he said.

The project will stretch 3,000-miles of fiber optic cable to build out the “middle mile” of a statewide broadband network. Cities and businesses across the state will be in charge of building out the “last mile” to connect services to customers.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Doug Kerr

Owensboro is joining the federal interstate system.  The Natcher Parkway will become an interstate spur connecting Owensboro to I-65 in Bowling Green. 

Mayor Ron Payne says the designation has been years in the making and will be a major boost to tourism.

"We have an international bluegrass music center and museum that's under construction, and with our riverfront and all the conventions we're having, I think to finally get Owensboro on that interstate map is really going to be a boost to economic development here," Payne told WKU Public Radio.

Governor Matt Bevin will make the official announcement Friday afternoon at the Owensboro Riverport Authority.  Signage will be unveiled designating the Natcher Parkway as a future interstate spur connector. Bevin is expected to offer more details in the news conference, including a start and end date for the project.

The state budget includes $66 million in construction funds for Daviess, Ohio, Butler, and Warren Counties for upgrading the Natcher Parkway to interstate standards.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky is working on a multimillion-dollar plan to bring broadband internet to the eastern part of the state, home to some of the country’s most impoverished places. A federal report released this year found that from around a third to nearly half of rural residents in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia lack high-speed internet and the job opportunities that come with it. But a few areas are ahead of the curve. In Kentucky’s Jackson and Owsley Counties, broadband has already arrived and is already creating jobs.

With a population of 1,095, Annville, Kentucky is one of the bigger towns in Jackson County. It’s surrounded by grassy fields and rolling hills, which are the inspiration for the county’s tourism slogan: “Where the Mountains and the Bluegrass Blend.

It’s not easy to find a job in Jackson County. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Most people who have jobs work outside the county. For Annville resident Alisha Tanfield, those long costly commutes made it hard to make ends meet. “After you pay gas, you’re not making anything,” she said.

If you’re barely getting by and your livelihood depends on a long commute, car troubles can create a major crisis. When Tanfield’s car broke down she lost what income she had and found herself struggling to provide for her two daughters. Then Tanfield heard about a friend who had found a work-from-home job through the Teleworks USA job board. Tanfield says she’d always been curious about work-from-home jobs but hadn’t tried applying for any because she thought a lot of them are scams.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky’s transportation cabinet has announced that it will pause new road projects over the next fiscal year starting July 1.

According to the cabinet, the “Pause-50” initiative will halt about $145 million in projects to help the state recoup lost revenue, pay current expenditures and rebuild the state road fund.

During a legislative committee hearing on Tuesday, Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas said major projects will still move forward.

“We went to the districts, we determined what the priorities were; we also looked at projects that hadn’t fully developed or fully started in terms of the right of way and utility phase, and those were the projects that came up,” he said.

Road resurfacing projects, the Louisville bridges project, construction of the I-69 corridor and bridge replacement projects will still progress.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has awarded a $128.3 million contract for a new bridge over Lake Barkley to Denver-based PCL Civil Construction.

The new Lake Barkley Bridge will carry US 68/KY 80 over Lake Barkley joining Trigg and Marshall counties and serve as the eastern entrance to LBL. 

“Replacement of the bridges over Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley has been a priority of my administration, and it’s a great pleasure to see the awarding of the culminating contract,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The importance of these bridges to the tourism industry of Western Kentucky cannot be overstated.”

The new bridge will place the 83-year-old Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge and is part of the larger Lakes Bridge Project.  

The current bridge has only two lanes, each 10 feet wide with no shoulders.  The new bridge will feature a unique basket-handle tied arch design with four travel lanes, each 11 feet wide, plus 4-foot shoulders and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle path.

A report released by a state commission says Tennessee needs $38 billion between now and 2015 to improve public infrastructure. Released by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the report shows what type of improvements are needed, from repairing roads and bridges to adding additional water lines and sewers.