Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, June 3, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Hubert Collins and Senator Brett Guthrie Co-Chaired the meeting. Representative Collins called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Brett Guthrie, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Charlie Borders, David E. Boswell, Bob Leeper, R.J. Palmer II, Dick Roeding, Richie Sanders Jr, Gary Tapp, Damon Thayer, David L. Williams, and Ed Worley; Representatives Scott Alexander, Eddie Ballard, Larry Belcher, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Richard Henderson, Melvin B. Henley, Jimmie Lee, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Lonnie Napier, Rick G. Nelson, Sannie Overly, Marie Rader, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.
Guests: Gale Reece, Executive Director, and Laura Dake, Deputy Director, Independent transportation Network (ITNBluegrass). And from the Transportation Cabinet, Joe Prather, Secretary, Mike Hancock, Chief of Staff, Russ Romine, Acting Budget Director, and Gilbert Newman, Chief Highway Engineer.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Jim Roberts, Brandon White, and Linda Hughes.
The first item on the Committee's agenda was an update by the Transportation Cabinet on the third quarter Road Fund receipts for FY 2007-08. Secretary Joe Prather, Chief of Staff Mike Hancock, and Acting Budget Director Russ Romine discussed this update with the Committee members. Mr. Romine said that there is a 3.9 percent 3rd Quarter FY increase in receipts in 2008 over 2007. FY 2007 receipts show motor fuels at $512.1 million and the motor vehicle usage at $373.1 million. FY 2008 reflect motor fuels at $556.3 million and motor vehicle usage at $371.9 million.
The actual growth in Road Fund revenues for FY 2007 over the previous year was 5.2 percent. In January the consensus forecasting group estimated Road Fund growth of 4.6 percent in FY 2008; 3.3 percent in FY 2009; and 6.1 percent by 2010. These growth rates are attributable to the higher cost of gasoline Kentuckians are experiencing at the gas pumps. Mr. Romine said that while revenues are up actual miles traveled are down. It is estimated that drivers nationwide traveled 11 million miles less in February 2008 as opposed to January 2008.
Due to the higher gasoline prices, Kentucky's gasoline tax has increased from its 16.4 cents per gallon (cpg) in FY 2004 to 19.7 cpg in FY 2007, and will be 21.0 cpg effective July 1, 2008. Projected increases in FY 2009 and FY 2010 are expected to bring the gasoline tax to 22.5 cpg and 24.1 cpg, respectively in those years.
Four of the seven surrounding states have higher gasoline tax rates than Kentucky. They are Illinois with 35.4 cpg, Indiana at 34.5 cpg, Ohio has a 28.0 cpg, and West Virginia has a 32.2 cpg rate. The other three states, lower than Kentucky, are Missouri at 17.6 cpg, Tennessee at 21.4 cpg, and Virginia at 18.1 cpg.
In closing the Cabinet presented a new model to reflect future Road Fund cash balances. The estimated Road Fund balance is approximately $80 million higher as of May, 2008, under the new model ($455.4 million) than under the November 2007 model ($375 million). Under the April 2008 model, the Road Fund will bottom out in December 2009 with a balance of $15.6 million.
Senator Williams stated that he had just asked the Cabinet for the May 2008 cash balance and was told it was $478 million while the chart presented by the Cabinet today depicts that balance at $455.4 million. He asked why the Cabinet's chart was not updated to reflect $478 million. Mr. Hancock stated that the Cabinet was aware of that actual balance. He said that this discrepancy was something the Cabinet constantly wrestled with on a daily basis. He said that the best way he could explain the difference was that the cash balances, as well as the expenditures, drastically changed on a daily basis, and, if these balances were reflected each day those cash balances would show revenues up considerably one day and expenditures up considerably the next. So in order to see the entire picture more realistically, the Cabinet has designed a model whereby presenting the monthly revenues and expenditures on a more constant basis, i.e., up when revenue receipts are expected and down when construction is anticipated.
Gilbert Newman, Chief Highway Engineer, discussed the criteria for erecting traffic signals and traffic signal operations with the Committee. Mr. Newman stated that there are eight nationally recognized criteria factors the Cabinet uses to decide whether or not a traffic signal is warranted at a certain area. Those eight factors are: traffic over an eight hour period, traffic over a four hour period, traffic during the peak hour during a day, pedestrian consideration, school crossing considerations, coordinated signal traffic with surrounding traffic signals, crash/accident experiences, and roadway network (volume at two roads coming together). Chairman Collins noted that most Kentuckians believe it is the number of crashes or fatalities at a certain spot that causes a traffic signal to be erected, which is not the only consideration the Cabinet uses when considering a traffic signal. Mr. Newman, said that is correct.
Senator Tapp asked if the Cabinet uses the same eight factors when deciding if a current traffic signal should have a lane turning signal included. Mr. Newman stated yes, the same eight factors are considered for the inclusion of a permissive turning signal. Senator Tapp asked how long it takes the Cabinet to add a permissive turning signal to an existing traffic light after the Cabinet's approval. Mr. Newman said any where from six weeks to six months, depending upon bids and contractors completing the job.
Chairman Collins stated that since accidents are included in the Cabinet's eight factors he thought the Committee would be interested in learning the number of accidents allowed before a restrictive permissive turn signal. Mr. Newman said that he did not have that information with him but would send the information to the Committee.
Representative Lee discussed the problem of motorcycles not weighing enough to trigger a traffic light change. Mr. Newman said that the Cabinet is aware of the problem and that quadripole loops were presently being installed into roadways at signal crossings. He cautioned that while they are being added there are numerous traffic lights in the Commonwealth and it will take a considerable amount of time to upgrade the intersections. Representative Lee asked if the Cabinet had a specific timeframe as to when all the intersections will be completed. Mr. Newman said he did not have that information with him but would see that the Committee received the information. Mr. Newman also stated that if Representative Lee, or any Committee member, knew of a specific intersection in dire need of such renovation they should contact him and he would see that special attention was given to that particular intersection.
At this time Senator Guthrie began chairing the committee meeting. The next item on the Committee's agenda was the Cabinet's response to the implementation of 2008 transportation related enacted legislation. Secretary Prather and Mike Hancock both stated that in their opinion all of the enacted 2008 legislation seemed to be straight forward in its interpretation and that the Cabinet anticipated no problems in implementing such legislation.
Gale Reece, Executive Director, and Laura Dake, Deputy Director, ITNBluegrass, discussed their organization, ITNAmerica, and the enacted 2008 HB 204, with the Committee. ITNAmerica is a nationwide, non-profit organization whose mission is to assist communities in providing a dignified transportation alternative for seniors and the visually impaired. Under the guidance of ITNAmerica, communities establish local ITN affiliates, such as ITNBluegrass in Fayette County, join other new affiliates to establish local organizations. The first ITN affiliate was established in Portland, Maine in 1995, with others soon following.
Ms. Drake said that the Bluegrass affiliate is the first ITN affiliate in the Ohio Valley. Kentucky is a great choice because by 2025, it will rank 14th in the nation in the number of people over 60 years of age. She noted that presently the cost of transportation by an ITNBluegrass members runs about 40 percent cheaper than a taxi cab would cost.
Before adjourning the meeting Chairman Guthrie informed the members that the next Committee meeting would be in Morehead and that travel information was in each of the member's folders.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.