Gov. Steve Beshear says that despite a lagging federal response to fixing the insolvent Federal Highway Trust Fund, the state will still pursue an expansion of Eastern Kentucky’s Mountain Parkway.
The governor says he hopes that the U.S. Senate will pass legislation passed by the House that will patch up the rapidly depleting fund through March.
“The Mountain Parkway project will continue as originally passed by the legislature in our transportation budget, and at least at this point, it’s not going to be affected adversely by any action or lack of action," Beshear said.
But the Mountain Parkway is slated to be largely paid for with federal highway reimbursement funds, and is a key component of the “Shaping Our Appalachian Region,” or SOAR, initiative championed by Beshear to revitalize the Eastern Kentucky economy.
The highway trust fund has been used to help states pay for road projects since the 1950s by collecting a gas tax, but it has spent more than it has taken in for nearly 20 years.
The Mountain Parkway in Eastern Kentucky will expand to four lanes in the coming years under a proposal from Governor Steve Beshear.
Beshear's proposal will be paid for with nearly $600 million in state and federal highway funding, and over $150 million in funds recovered by toll revenues.
“The Kentucky Highway Plan that I will be recommending to the General Assembly will include a series of construction projects by which the Mountain Parkway will be four-laned, lengthened and thoroughly modernized by the year 2020," the Governor said.
House and Senate leadership eagerly support the plan, which will need to be approved by the General Assembly.
Construction on the project’s first phase, which includes Magoffin and Morgan Counties, is slated to begin later this year.