Kentucky's $2.4B infrastructure plan awaits governor's signature
- Kentucky could see $2.4 billion worth of highway and bridge infrastructure projects, according to the Ohio County Monitor, if a two-year program, authorized by state lawmakers, is signed by Gov. Matt Bevin.
- The money will go toward state bridge, repaving and highway projects, with $1 billion earmarked for roads and bridges. Some major projects identified by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in its 2018 Recommended Highway Plan, which outlines projects for the next six years, are the Interstate 69 Ohio River Crossing, the Brent Spence Bridge project in Covington, Kentucky, and the widening of interstate systems in the northern region of the state.
- Kentucky's highway programs and budgets are informed by the cabinet, which uses a scoring process called SHIFT to prioritize projects. Each potential project is rated according to how its cost benefit, as well as how it improves safety, preserves existing infrastructure, reduces congestion and promotes economic growth.
Other states use scoring systems as well to decide which major transportation projects they will pursue, given state agencies typically have limited funds and want to get the most for their money. These systems also create transparency and give the public a look into how decisions are made regarding the spending of their tax dollars.
In 2016, Virginia began using a scoring system called Smart Scale to evaluate transportation projects at the same time as the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board approved a $14.4 billion, six-year transportation improvement program. Smart Scake projects are evaluated on how they ease congestion, the potential for economic development, accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been a vocal critic of project scoring in his state, which has seen some massive transportation undertakings, including the $5.6 billion Purple Line light-rail project in Bethesda. Hogan also proposed late last year the $9 billion expansion of three major highways that connect Maryland to Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Two years ago, Hogan vetoed a state Senate bill that required transportation projects to be scored and ranked, but the Senate was able to gather enough votes to override the veto. Hogan called the provision "the worst kind of policy," and said it would lead to underinvestment in and neglect of state assets, although his office is not under any obligation to move forward on or cancel projects based on their scores.
- The Ohio County Monitor Road Plan receives final passage, goes to governor
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