Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, October 2, 2007, at 6:00 PM, at Pine Mountain State Park in Middlesboro, Kentucky . Representative Hubert Collins, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brett Guthrie, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Bob Leeper, Dick Roeding, and Gary Tapp; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Larry Belcher, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jim DeCesare, J. R. Gray, Lonnie Napier, Rick G. Nelson, Marie Rader, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner. Representative Brandon Smith attended the meeting as an invited guest.
Guests Testifying Before the Committee: Mr. John Brock, Pine Mountain State Park Manager; Albey Brock, Bell County Judge Executive; Carl Sizemore, Clay County Judge Executive; Joe Grieshop, Harlan County Judge Executive and Dan Mosley, Coordinator for Harlan Chamber of Commerce's Special Programs; Representative Rader for William Smith, Jackson County Judge Executive who sent in testimony; Lawrence Kuhl, Laurel County Judge Executive; James Sizemore, Leslie County Judge Executive; and Pat White, Whitley County Judge Executive. And testifying for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet were Mike Hancock, Chief of Staff, and Marc Williams, Commissioner of the Department of Highways.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Jim Roberts, Brandon White, and Linda Hughes.
Mr. John Brock, Pine Mountain State Park Manager, welcomed the committee and gave a brief overview of its history.
The first person to testify before the committee was Albey Brock, Bell County Judge Executive. Judge Brock stated that most of Bell County's road system, liked many of the roads in Distinct 11, was in dire need of resurfacing and widening. He said that the main problem was the oil, gas, and logging industries who operate trucks and equipment larger than most of the county's roads can handle. Judge Brock said that road bonds are a must for smaller counties who do not have the revenue base as the state's larger counties. When asked if Bell County received bonds against damage from the industries operating in its county prior to operation, Judge Brock stated that currently the county did not, but he felt that that arrangement would be required by the county in the near future. He said that at the present time a county magistrate, with an industry representative, inspected the roads that the company's trucks would be traveling over prior to operation and then again upon completion of that industry's operation in Bell County to determine if any road damage had occurred. If there was road damage due to the larger trucks the industry would be responsible for that road's repair.
Carl Sizemore, Clay County Judge Executive, was the next person testifying. Judge Sizemore stated that he felt that the Transportation Cabinet had been good to Clay County. He said that while Clay County's road system was not perfect, there has been some improvement during this administration in Frankfort. Judge Sizemore said that the county's bridges were beginning to show wear and its road system was passable.
Joe Grieshop, Harlan County Judge Executive, stated that Harlan County has eleven of the state's highest fifteen peaks which in itself causes the state and county considerable more money in developing and maintaining roads. Judge Grieshop stated the there are only three miles of four-lane highway in Harlan County. He stated that US 119 needed to be straightened out for the safety of its residents. Judge Grieshop listed four projects by priority: first, complete the remaining 3.8 miles of South U.S. Highway 421 to the Virginia line that would cost an estimated $51 million. Second, expand South U.S. Hwy. 119 from U.S. 25 in Pineville to Harlan from a two-lane with passing zones to a four-lane highway. Third, remove the dangerous curves on North U.S. Hwy. 421 from Baxter to Bledsoe, and fourth, construct a 2.5 mile highway that will connect North U.S. Hwy. 119 and Kentucky 38 from Nolansburg to Shields.
Mr. Dan Mosley, Coordinator for Harlan County Chamber of Commerce's Special Programs, stated that the 2.5 mile construction between Nolansburg and Shields would offer significant benefit to the county. He stated that there is a new school consolidating three county schools scheduled to open in 2008 and that construction of that 2.5 miles would mean school children would spend less time on school buses. If not constructed those children would be required to travel by school bus from sunrise to sunset getting to and from school each day.
William Smith, Jackson County Judge Executive, was unable to attend the meeting but sent in his testimony. Representative Marie Rader spoke on his and Jackson County's behalf. Representative Rader stated that at present Jackson County's employment rate was 12%. She said that there is no airport or railroads within its boundaries and there is little industry in the county. Representative Rader said that KY 30 and U.S. 421 are narrow, crooked, and difficult to negotiate, especially when meeting large trucks. She said that both KY 30 and U.S. 421 needed to be widen and straightened.
While Knox County is not within District 11, Jay Hall, Knox County Judge Executive, wanted to take this opportunity to thanked the Transportation Cabinet for all of its support to the county. He stated his county's road system was adequate.
Lawrence Kuhl, Laurel County Judge Executive, testified that Laurel County had 573 miles of county roads which were hard to maintain. He said that Hwy 699 desperately needed about 6 to 8 miles of guardrail, with the rest of the road system badly needing blacktop.
Pat White, Whitley County Judge Executive, the last judge executive to testify, stated that to the best of his knowledge Whitley County was the only county in Kentucky that still had a graveled highway. He said that more or less described his county's road system, which was in need of widening and resurfacing.
At this time Chairman Collins asked Representative Gray to give the committee a brief overview of his recent meeting with representatives from the State of Missouri. Representative Gray informed the members about the interest Missouri has in building a bridge between Kentucky and Missouri. He mentioned that there will be future meetings in which the Committee's chairmen, and committee members could be invited to attend these discussions. Chairman Collins discussed the possibility of scheduling a committee meeting in Western Kentucky in 2008 to discuss that area's highway needs as well as a bridge connecting Kentucky and Missouri.
Mike Hancock, Chief of Staff, and Marc Williams, Commissioner of the Department of Highways, gave an updated overview of projects scheduled or completed in District 11. Commissioner Williams said that year-to-date the Cabinet has exceeded the record total from 2006 with $1.3 billion in new highway contracts awarded and still has 3 month left in 2008. He said the Hal Rogers Parkway pavement rehab totaled $5 million in Clay County; Laurel County had an asphalt overlay with a bridge on I-75 for $11 million, and a road relocation of $3 million. The Hal Rogers Parkway in Leslie County was resurfaced for $6 million, and Whitley County had asphalt rehab and pavement repairs on I-75 for $15 million.
Commissioner Williams stated that projects currently under construction are: $1.3 million for Pineville Road in Bell County; $1 million bridge replacement in Harlan County; and $2 million asphalt rehabilitation in Leslie County. He also noted a $37 million widening and asphalt rehabilitation on I-75, a $13 million relocation on KY 30, $4 million of repairs on the Cumberland Gap Parkway, and a $2.7 million pavement repair on the London Bypass in Laurel County. And in Whitley County, Commissioner Williams listed $11million on KY 92, $11 million rehabilitation on I-75, $8 million on U.S. 25W, and $3.6 million on KY 92.
In closing, Commissioner Williams noted the Transportation Cabinet's schedule for 2007 lettings in District 11. They were a relocation on KY 30 in Jackson and Laurel Counties; rockfall hazard on KY 11 in Clay County; bridge replacements on KY 6, KY 779, and KY 219 in Whitley County, and U.S. 421 in Jackson County; and pavement rehab on I-75 in Whitley County.
At the closing of the meeting Chairman Collins invited the members and guests to a reception hosted by the Bell County Chamber of Commerce.
With no further business before the Committee the meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.