Home » Op-Ed: Ford looks toward future, KY’s Transportation System must also

Op-Ed: Ford looks toward future, KY’s Transportation System must also

By Jennifer Kirchner
Executive Director of Kentuckians for Better Transportation 

Excitement is running high because of Ford’s historic investment in KY and for good reason. Our relationship with Ford began in 1913 with Assembly operations in two small shops in Louisville that produced 12 Model T bodies a day. By 1916, production reached approx. 20 vehicles/day assembled and didn’t stop there. In three short years, Ford nearly doubled their output, paving the way for our vehicles and our economy to be powered by gas motors.

Specifically, for nearly 100 years Kentucky has built, improved, and maintained our transportation systems by taxing the fuel used by these vehicles. And now in 2021, at the new Glendale mega-site, Kentucky and its partners will shift from the traditional automobile to the electric vehicle of the future. Ford expects at least 40% of its global sales to be electric vehicles by 2030, and the batteries made in Kentucky will help power that transition. Ford making this incredible investment to transition to electric vehicles is a bellwether for the auto industry and our country. It should also be a signal to state leaders that the future is here.

Much like legislative action was needed to secure the Ford deal, legislative action is needed to secure Kentucky’s future highways. To be competitive, we must begin now transitioning from a gas tax-dependent revenue structure to one more like our neighbors that have already implemented funding mechanisms such as electric vehicle fees and high mileage/hybrid fees. Further, Kentucky must earnestly begin preparing to transition to a roadway usage charge (RUC) or vehicle miles traveled (VMT) system that will appropriately capture the funding needed to maintain and improve our highways for the vehicles of today and tomorrow.

Now is the time we must begin transitioning how we fund our roads and bridges and how we will provide the needed charging stations to fuel our future transportation system and economy. Kentucky has one of the smallest networks of EV Charging station networks in the country. With KYs geographical location and undeniable potential to be a logistics leader, Kentucky must take the necessary actions to improve access to charging stations while ensuring that we have a mechanism in place to capture revenue and therefore, user fees, from those utilizing our roads.

Ford has set an example of how to plan for the future, make the investments needed to be successful, and then execute that plan. Kentucky leaders must now do the same by establishing sustainable funding mechanisms for our roadways and pass the legislation to implement those mechanisms. Kentuckians For Better transportation, its members, and its thousands of employees, are excited about the Ford announcement and the positive impact it will have on Kentucky.

We look forward to working with Kentucky’s leaders to develop a transportation funding plan and the implementation of electric charging stations that position Kentucky for success in the future.

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