Thesecond meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, July 1, 2003, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Virgil Moore and Representative Hubert Collins co-chaired the meeting. Senator Moore, who chaired the first half of the meeting, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Virgil Moore, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, Paul Herron Jr, Ray Jones II, Robert Leeper, Albert Robinson, Richard Sanders Jr, Ernesto Scorsone, Gary Tapp, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Carolyn Belcher, Denver Butler, Howard Cornett, Mike Denham, Jimmie Lee, Paul Marcotte, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Lonnie Napier, Rick Nelson, Don Pasley, Marie Rader, Rick Rand, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart, Jim Thompson, Tommy Turner, John Vincent, and Mike Weaver.
Guests Testifying Before the Committee: Mike Hancock, Office of Program Planning & Management, Amos Hubbard, Deputy State Highway Engineer, Mark Pfeiffer, Executive Director, Office of Public Affairs, Taylor Manley, Department of Fiscal Management, Mack Bushart, Vehicle Regulation, and Ken Sperry, Executive Director, Office of Project Development, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Charlie Cornett and Sergeant John Carrico, Kentucky State Police; Tom Underwood, Kentucky Auto and Truck Recyclers Association, and Norma Lance, automobile industry.
LRC Staff: Kathy Jones, John Snyder, jay Hartz, Lourdes Baer-Schrader, Geri Grigsby, Sheila Hardy, and Linda Hughes.
Senator Moore opened the meeting by reminding the members that the Committee’s next meeting would be held on August 5th in Leitchfield, Kentucky. He told the members that a tour starting at 2:00 p.m. highlighting Leitchfield’s industry and road projects would precede the Committee’s meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m., followed by a cookout at his ranch. Senator Moore extended the invitation not only to the Committee members but to lobbyists and state officials attending the meeting.
Representative Collins moved to approve the Committee’s June 3, 2003 minutes, as submitted. Representative Rader seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.
The first item on the Committee’s agenda was an overview of a road project from conception to completion. Mike Hancock, Office of Program Planning & Management, and Amos Hubbard, Deputy State Highway Engineer discussed this item with the Committee.
Mr. Hancock said that the public wanted three things of its road system, safer roads, smoother roads, and less delays. He said that the Cabinet always considered these elements whenever constructing a new highway. Mr. Hancock presented a three-page flow chart depicting the project delivery process and illustrated the five major steps that are required in constructing and finalizing a project. Those steps are, the planning process, the first look study, the decision to build the project, the project follow-through and finally the project’s completion. Mr. Hancock said that along with the five major steps there are an additional sixteen phases that are required along the way, and that one phase could delay a project or even, in some cases, derail the project altogether.
Chairman Collins asked how many six-year road plan projects had yet to have money spent on them. Mr. Hancock said, between now and 2008, there are approximately 200 projects without funding authorization. Chairman Collins asked if the six-year highway plan deficit would be eliminated if the state postponed those 200 projects. Mr. Hancock stated that while that would help, it would not eliminate the total deficit.
Chairman Collins asked if the state’s federal credits could help reduce the state’s financial burden. Mr. Manley, Department of Fiscal Management, said that the state has approximately $1.4 billion dollars in federal Toll credits. He said that these credits could be used as Kentucky 20% match, however, he stressed that these were only credits, not actual dollars, and when the credits are used, it reduces the state’s overall federal highway money by the amount that that 20% represents.
Representative Weaver asked Mr. Manley to explain to the Committee what Toll credits are. Mr. Manley said that Toll credits originated from a federal program that rewarded states for borrowing money to complete their highway systems. Kentucky’s credits stem from issuing general obligation bonds, toll road bonds, and resource recovery bonds. The amount of the credits each state receives is equal to the amount the state pays in debt service on bond issues.
Senator Tapp asked how the Cabinet decided whether to use concrete or asphalt on a project, and whether the lifetime cost of the project is taken into consideration. Ken Sperry, Executive Director, Office of Project Development, said there are a number of factors that the Cabinet considers when determining whether to use concrete or asphalt. Some of those factors are traffic volume, vehicle axle weight, soil condition, existing pavement, market availability, and the life cycle of the highway.
Senator Tapp asked if the Cabinet conducted a life cycle cost analysis on every project. Mr. Sperry said no, only the projects costing over a certain amount, however he couldn’t remember it that amount was $5 million or $10 million.
Senator Leeper commented that in many cases the state only receives one bid on a project and asked if there was something that could be done to increase contractors’ interest. He gave as an example the June 2003 letting in which almost half the projects had only one bidder. Mr. Sperry said that an increase in the number of bidders would be an advantage for the state and that in some cases the Cabinet works up two specifications on a project, one using concrete and the other using asphalt, to help increase the number of bidders.
Senator Leeper asked where the Cabinet had used concrete in lieu of asphalt. Mr. Sperry said that one place that comes to mind is the road in front of the new Transportation Building. He said concrete was also used on the Shawnee Freeway in Jefferson County.
Chairman Collins asked if old concrete had to be broken up and disposed of before repaving a highway. Mr. Hubbard said no, when repaving an existing concrete highway, the Cabinet uses a type of bond breaker which is laid over the old concrete before pouring, depending upon the project, the 5-7 inches of new concrete.
Mr. Amos Hubbard, Deputy State Highway Engineer, discussed the duties of the Division of Contract Procurement. He told the Committee that, unlike in the past when the Cabinet mailed out large quantities of forms to vendors for each letting, the Cabinet now handles the bidding process on line. Vendors can now use the internet to see what projects are being let, when the letting will occur, as well as finding the proper forms to fill out. Mr. Hubbard said the vendors could also file their bids via the internet. He also noted that the actual letting is now covered live over the internet for vendors’ convenience.
Mr. Hubbard said that a Transportation Cabinet inspector goes out daily to inspect a contractor’s work. That inspector then enters into the Cabinet’s computer program what work was completed that day. Every two weeks the computer is programmed to tabulate those work entries and send them to each of the district offices for review to determine how much money the Cabinet will be paying the contractor for that two week period. Mr. Hubbard said that after the district office reviews the pay estimates they are sent back to the central office for review. The central office then sends them to the Cabinet’s internal Division of Accounts for their approval. If approved in the Division of Accounts it then goes to the Finance Cabinet to process the checks or electronic transfers and the contract should receive payment within a couple of dates.
Representative Mobley asked if there was a bonus clause in the Cabinet’s contracts. Mr. Hubbard said yes, in most cases. Representative Mobley asked how much the state had spent in bonuses over the last decade. Mr. Hubbard said that he did not have that figure with him but would forward the information to the Committee.
Mr. Mark Pfeiffer, Executive Director, Office of Public Affairs, gave the Committee a demonstration of the Transportation Cabinet’s web page, as well as a handout of the various areas that could be accessed through the Cabinet’s home page.
One of the areas explored on the website was the Cabinet’s new 511 program. This program gives various information on Kentucky’s different highways, including traffic delays and weather related road conditions. Senator Robinson asked how often the system was updated. Mr. Pfeiffer stated as often as every 5 minutes, if conditions warrant such updates. He said there are a number of state police and cabinet personnel in the various highway districts that have the knowledge to update the 511 system.
At this time Senator Moore turned the meeting over to Representative Collins.
The next item on the committee’s agenda was a review of the motor vehicle title procedures, by Mr. Bushart, Commissioner, Vehicle Regulation. Mr. Bushart said a new procedure initiated by the Cabinet was to give people waiting to be served a mechanism that lights up when it is their turn to be assisted. He said that these instruments are similar to the ones Applebee’s and other restaurants use when a person is waiting their turn for a table. Mr. Bushart said that persons waiting now have the luxury to walk around, even visit the cafeteria, instead of waiting in the designated waiting room.
Mr. Bushart noted that there doesn’t seem to be any problems with the Cabinet’s new 2-day turn around policy. He said that many people, who do not travel daily to Frankfort, have their titles mailed to them.
Chairman Collins ask what the Cabinet does with titles that are not picked up. Mr. Bushart said that those titles are mailed out after five days.
Chairman Collins asked if Kentucky was becoming a dumping ground for obtaining titles for unrebuildable automobiles. Mr. Bushart said yes, that Kentucky’s statute (186.A.530) permits a person to obtain a title for such an automobile. He noted that pictures of the front and back of the automobile, a list of the parts used to rebuild the car, and two estimates from other rebuilders showing the vehicle was rebuilt for less than 75% of the N. A. D. A. value are required.
Representative Weaver questioned the quality control over rebuilt automobiles and asked for the inspection criteria for titling these vehicles. Mr. Bushart said the automobile’s vehicle identification number is verified along with checking to see if the taillights and windshield wipers work properly. He said he knew of no other inspection criteria.
Representative Lee commented that while the process was improving, he still did not agree with the 2-day turn around timeframe for those individuals who did not travel to Frankfort on a daily basis.
Representative Marcotte asked Mr. Bushart if the Cabinet had any legislative proposals for making the inspection system better. Mr. Bushart said that he would be happy to sit down with someone to discuss various issues.
Senator Tapp asked if rebuilt titles are a major problem. Mr. Bushart said the Cabinet receives approximately 47,000 applications a year for rebuilt titles. He said that this certainly is an area to investigate.
Ms. Norma Lance, a title runner for the automobile industry, said that the Cabinet’s 2-day turn around time has cost her money because the dealers and rebuilders do not want to pay for the extra trip to Frankfort. And, she questioned why the Cabinet only accepted title applications four days a week, instead of five days.
Chairman Collins asked Mr. Bushart if the Cabinet had speed titles for rebuilt titles such as they do for regular titles. Mr. Bushart said no, but that could be an avenue to explore.
Mr. Tom Underwood, Kentucky Auto and Truck Recyclers Association said that many insurance companies deem an automobile unrebuildable because they have not recovered the vehicle and do not know the extent of the damage. He said that in many cases those automobiles could be restored to a viable means of transportation. However in Florida’s case, once unrebuildable is stamped on a title they do not have the statutory authority as Kentucky does for issuing a new title.
Representative Weaver asked if the Automobile and Truck Recyclers Association would have a problem with the state requiring a more realistic inspection of automobiles once they have been rebuilt. Mr. Underwood said when the rebuilt title statutes were overhauled in 1996, they had no objection to more detailed inspections.
Due to the time, Chairman Collins asked Mr. Bushart to come back to the Committee’s September meeting to discuss boat titling and boat liens.
The last item on the Committee’s agenda was an overview of all-terrain vehicle accidents. Mr. Charlie Cornett and Sergeant John Carrico, Kentucky State Police, discussed this item with the Committee. Sgt. Carrico stated that prior to 2000 the state did not collect data on ATV accidents. He said that in the first 6.5 months in fiscal year 2000, there were 109 accidents involving ATVs, which included 8 fatality accidents, 88 injuries, 9 killed, and 7 of the 109 were wearing helmets. In 2001 there were 84 collisions, 2 fatality accidents, 72 injuries, 2 killed, and 14 of the 84 were wearing helmets. In 2002 there were 97 collisions, 9 fatality accidents, 68 injuries, 10 killed, and 18 of the 97 were wearing helmets. And from January 1, 2003 to present, there were 53 collisions, 7 fatality accidents, 35 injuries, 7 killed, and 4 of the 53 were wearing helmets.
Sgt. Carrico said that 17 is the average age for persons having injuries due to ATV accidents on the state’s highways. Sgt. Carrico also noted that property damage due to ATV collisions increased by 375% from 2000 to 2001.
Representative Cornett said that according to Sgt. Carrico’s figures there was a 48% increase in collisions and 50% decrease in deaths from 2002 to 2001, while he felt sure that the usage of ATVs more than doubled during that same time.
Senator Jones commented that the State Police statistics only reflect collisions that occurred on Kentucky’s highways and not the ones occurring on private property. Sgt. Carrico said that was correct. Senator Jones asked if the State Police would be receptive to an age restriction, helmet requirement, or additional type of legislation for ATV users. Mr. Cornett stated the State Police would be in favor of both an age restriction and helmet requirement, and he said, keeping ATVs off the highways would reduce fatalities.
Representative Cornett commented that helmet use and age restrictions are already current law.
Representative Belcher asked if there was anyway the police could determine if an ATV involved in an accident on a public highway was within the 0.02 mile permissible limit. Sgt. Carrico replied no.
At this time Senator Moore reiterated the Committee’s next meeting would be an out-of-town meeting in Leitchfield, Kentucky, on Tuesday, August 5, 2003.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.