By Eric Frankl, Candace McGraw and Dan Mann
In 2019, Kentuckians took to the skies like never before. At the commonwealth’s three largest commercial airports —Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) and Blue Grass Airport (LEX) — we collectively served nearly 15 million passengers. But the millions of you that use our airports rely on a strong network of roads, bridges and highways to connect you with our runways.
It is no secret that much of America’s infrastructure is in poor condition. Some studies estimate that drivers incur an average of $434 per year due to dealing with potholes and generally driving on bad roads. You, our passengers, whether traveling for work or leisure, lose time and money navigating these conditions to get to our curbsides. Even if you use transit or take Uber or Lyft to get around, Kentucky’s infrastructure is the foundation that connects us all.
Our three airports are estimated to support more than 100,000 jobs. These individuals — your family, friends, and neighbors — rely on strong infrastructure to get to work. At SDF and CVG, major companies such as UPS, DHL, Amazon, and others move millions of tons of cargo per year through our airports. The Kentucky Chamber estimates that more than $570 billion in valuable freight flows through our state’s transportation network. Without better roads and highways, the packages our companies and you, the consumer, need to send and receive in a timely manner will not make it to you.
So why are we speaking out about our infrastructure now? Why does it matter to you, especially if you don’t use our airports?
As transportation and business leaders in Kentucky, we are concerned that if the state does not take action in the very near future to modernize and increase infrastructure funding, we will all be left behind.
While the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is moving forward with hundreds of critical projects across the commonwealth, the funding needed to address the billions of dollars in both new construction and maintenance projects is lacking. In recent years, nearly every state surrounding us has taken steps to fund more and more of their infrastructure needs. Kentucky is falling behind.
Our state remains highly competitive in the logistics and transportation industry for two main reasons: our people and our infrastructure. Companies like UPS and Amazon have told us they continue to invest here because our workforce is second to none, and our infrastructure quickly connects the goods they need to bring to market, whether through our airports, by rail, over water, or across our roads.
We cannot afford to let another session of the General Assembly pass us by without taking meaningful action to better invest in infrastructure. Even if you don’t directly use our roads and bridges every day, remember that our Kentucky economy depends on this infrastructure to produce needed revenue for our state. Increased investment for infrastructure is an investment that will pay off for us all.
The op-ed was written by Eric Frankl, Executive Director, Blue Grass Airport (LEX), Candace McGraw, CEO, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), and Dan Mann, Executive Director, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF)