Sunday, December 23, 2001

Kentucky rakes in federal roads funds

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — For a state of only middling size, Kentucky got a heaping portion of federal money for local transportation projects in a new appropriations bill.

        The total is at least $142.8 million, 10th highest among the states and District of Columbia, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

        In per capita terms, Kentucky's return was even greater — $35.34 for every man, woman and child in the state. That was fourth highest in the nation.

        Not coincidentally, the House panel that allocates money for the nation's trans portation projects is now headed by a Kentuckian.

        U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, after 20 years in the House, this year gained the chairmanship of the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

        For his hometown of Somerset, Mr. Rogers secured $6.6 million for a bypass, $5 million for improvements to U.S. 27, $3 million for an access road and runway work at the local airport and $2 million for downtown revitalization.

        Kentucky's total funding is nearly double the $78 million for neighboring Tennessee. Indiana got $37.6 million and Ohio $66 million.

        In per capita funding, Ohio and Indiana were last and next-to-last at $5.81 and $6.19, respectively. Neither state was represented on the transportation budget conference committee, nor was Tennessee.

        Mr. Rogers' ascension was especially fortuitous for Leslie County, where Judge-executive Onzie Sizemore had been trying since 1994 to get money for a parking garage in Hyden, the county seat. The appropriations bill contains $2 million for the project.

        The biggest single appropriation for Kentucky is $30 million more for “Appalachian highway corridor” development on U.S. 460 and U.S. 119. The appropriation is a supplement to $55.5 million previously authorized. All of the roads are in Mr. Rogers' 5th district.

        There also is $22.5 million related to development of Interstate 66. Of that, $20 million is for planning and land acquisition; $2.5 million is for design work in Pike County. And $4 million was earmarked for a road to an industrial park shared by Clay and Leslie counties.

        Big items outside the 5th District included $5 million for Louisville International Airport — start-up money for a new detection system to reduce the risk of collisions in the air and on the ground.

        The bill earmarked $8.3 million for transit buses all over the state; $3.8 million for waterfront development projects in Henderson, Owensboro and Louisville; $2 million for the Clark's River National Wildlife Refuge in Marshall County, and $2 million for an operations center in the Transportation Cabinet's new headquarters at Frankfort.


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