Lawmakers discuss transportation projects, airport investment and new Kentucky licenses

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The House Budget Review Subcommittee received an update on transportation matters Monday including the road fund.

Speaking on behalf of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Deputy Secretary Paul Looney told members of the committee that the current road plan is one of the most balanced plans seen in years. The plan is about 8 percent over programmed meaning there are about $200 million worth of projects included in the plan that aren’t funded.

Looney stated the cabinet is working hard to deliver as many projects as it can. The cabinet is on pace to deliver 85 percent of mobility projects and 100 percent of bridge projects. The cabinet spent $812 million in construction projects in 2018 and expects to spend a similar amount in 2019.

Looney also updated the committee on the Bridging Kentucky program which will rebuild or repair 1,000 bridges over the next six years at a cost of $700 million. About 66 of those structures have been let.

The cabinet also discussed the SHIFT (Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow) schedule. SHIFT is the process established by the cabinet to prioritize capital projects to better allocate the limited funds available. The cabinet is in the sponsorship phase of the process which calls for local transportation planners to identify the projects they want to undergo further review by the process. This phase ends March 15, and legislators were encouraged to discuss priority projects with their local transportation planners.

Chairman Sal Santoro acknowledged there was skepticism regarding SHIFT but told the committee he thinks it’s a good program. He also asked about limited funding to complete projects and pointed out there are $6 billion worth of unfunded critical projects identified by SHIFT and another $1.8 billion in need identified by legislators; these unfunded projects have merit and their funding is of critical importance over the next six years.

Chairman Santoro noted he has filed a bill to increase funding for transportation.

Also covered in committee was an update on projects at airports through the Airport Economic Development Fund. Such investment supports economic development. The Airport Maintenance Fund, federal dollars, and revenues from jet fuel tax which is used to match federal dollars were also discussed.

Finally, the committee received an update about Kentucky’s extension from the Office of Homeland Security for implementing the federal Real ID requirements until October 2020. Credentials currently being used can continue to be used for security checks at the TSA, access to federal facilities and military bases, age verification, driving, etc. However, after October 2020, a voluntary travel ID will be required for TSA review and to access federal facilities.

In order to receive a credential an individual will still go to the circuit court clerk’s office but the credential will but mailed. The credential will include enhanced security, a longer expiration period, and a higher cost.

Compliant credentials aren’t yet available but pilot programs will roll out in Franklin and Woodford counties. More information is available at Drive.ky.gov/confidentky.


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