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Senate transportation bill will fund road improvements in Kentucky

Included measure will increase broadband in rural and underserved areas

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2015) — The U.S. Senate’s passage of a five-year transportation bill will help improve road conditions in Kentucky, while also bringing broadband to rural and underserved areas, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a press release.

McConnell said: “While Kentucky has a strong network of interstates, highways and parkways, it’s obvious to anyone who has driven in the commonwealth lately that many important transportation infrastructure projects are in urgent need of repair. This disrepair complicates and delays the commutes of the millions of Kentucky drivers and businesses who rely on our roads and bridges every day.

“In previous years, Congress processed only short-term highway funding extensions, which made vital transportation projects difficult to undertake and manage,” he said. “This bipartisan, long-term highway and transportation bill… provides five years of guaranteed funding and stability for interstate highway projects and gives state and local governments more flexibility in how they spend federal transportation dollars. And most importantly, it would also support jobs in Kentucky and across the nation as these and other important infrastructure projects get underway.”

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, as the transportation bill is known, includes several measures that could benefit Kentucky.

They are:

Natcher Parkway/I-65 Spur designation 

  • Designates the existing Natcher Parkway between Bowling Green and Owensboro an official Spur of I-65 in an effort to help attract additional economic development to the region. Representative Brett Guthrie (KY-02) worked on the provision in the House of Representatives.

Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects 

  • Makes it easier for Kentucky to compete for federal funding to help advance major transportation infrastructure projects like the Brent Spence Bridge that have not been funded through existing resources. $4.5 billion is provided for this competitive program over the life of the bill.

National Highway Freight Program

  • Establishes a formula program—funded at $6.2 billion over life of the bill—to improve highway infrastructure projects that are especially critical to the movement of freight, like the Brent Spence Bridge.

ARC High-speed broadband development initiative 

  • Authorizes $50 million over the life of the bill for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to provide grants, technical assistance, training and equipment to the Appalachian region in an effort to increase affordable access to broadband networks, distance learning opportunities, telehealth technologies, and promote e-commerce applications.