Thesecond meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, July 1, 2008, at 2:00 PM, in Room 307 in the Adron Doran University Center at Morehead State University. 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 Walter Blevins Jr., Brandon Smith, and Gary Tapp; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Larry Belcher, Tim Couch, Richard Henderson, Rick G. Nelson, Sannie Overly, Marie Rader, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart III, Greg Stumbo, and Tommy Turner.
Guests: Carolyn Belcher, County Judge Executive, Bath County; Larry Foxworthy, County Judge Executive, Fleming County; Steven Applegate, County Judge Executive, Lewis County; Jim Nickell, County Judge Executive, Rowan County; and from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Gilbert Newman, State Highway Engineer, and Ray Polly, Deputy State Highway Engineer.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Brandon White, and Linda Hughes.
Mike Walters, Vice President for Administrative Services, Morehead State University, welcomed the committee to the Morehead, Kentucky.
Four of the attending local county judge executives came forward to discuss their county’s needs with the committee. The first to speak, County Judge Executive Carolyn Belcher, said that although she was stabilizing Bath County’s budget, that after paying mandated fiscal needs there was little, if any, money left for blacktopping. And, she said some of Bath County roads were in desperate need of maintenance. Judge Belcher also stated that the Satterfield Lane Bridge was becoming dangerous and requested that the Transportation Cabinet inspect that bridge for its safety.
Fleming County Judge Executive Larry Foxworthy was the second judge executive to speak. He said that of Fleming County’s 340 miles of road, 70 miles were still gravel. He stated that blacktopping was Fleming County’s major request. Judge Foxworthy stated that the KY. 57 extension was extremely important because without that extension large trucks have to travel through the city. He said that without the extension completion these trucks have no alternative but to drive through downtown Flemingsburg.
Judge Foxworthy stated that another major concern to all of Kentucky’s counties is the housing of state inmates. He said that the state does not reimburse for housing these inmates, which is very costly. Judge Foxworthy said that 100% of the inmates currently housed in Mason County’s jail are state inmates, and while this situation is not transportation related, this expense keeps the counties from maintaining and blacktopping their own roads.
County Judge Executive Steven Applegate said that several storms over the past have left Lewis County with damaged roads. This damage is estimated to cost around $880,000 for repair. He said that of the 350 road miles in Lewis County, 140 are gravel. Judge Applegate stated that he is currently looking at ways of reducing county expenses, such as a shorter work weeks for employees at the county garage. He said that he will look to the county’s payroll for savings before asking Lewis County residents to increase their county-wide taxes. Judge Applegate stated that Lewis County is a financially depressed county and he could not, in all conscience, seek increased taxation before exhausting all other means first.
Judge Applegate stated that Straight Fork Road is expected to cost approximately $2 million to stop that road from falling into the creek. If that should happen he said that there are around 50 homes that will be shut off from everything. He said that Lewis County does not have the $2 million needed for this project, nor the $880,000 for storm damage that he had discussed earlier.
Rowan County Judge Executive Jim Nickell was the last judge executive to speak. Judge Nickell said of Rowan County’s 360 miles of road, 40 miles are still gravel, and a number of the current blacktopped roads will more than likely be reverted back to gravel because the county does not have the funds to maintain them. He said that a major concern is Route 377. He said that Route 377 is dangerous and that more fatalities occur on this one road than on all of the other Rowan County roads combined.
Next on the committee’s agenda was a presentation on construction projects in Highway District 9. Gilbert Newman, State Highway Engineer, and Ray Polly, Deputy State Highway Engineer, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, discussed these projects with the committee.
Mr. Newman said that before getting into today’s presentation he wanted to answer two questions raised at the committee’s previous meeting. At the committee’s June 3, 2008 meeting Representative Lee asked if the Cabinet had a specific timeframe as to when all of the state’s intersections would be installed with quadripole loops, which recognized the weight of motorcycles for changing traffic signal purposes. Mr. Newman said that the Cabinet does not have a specific completion timeframe because the quadripole loops are being installed when roads are replaced or resurfaced. Mr. Newman said that the road Representative Lee inquired about last month is scheduled to be resurfaced next year.
Also at the last meeting, Chairman Collins inquired as to the number of accidents allowed before a restrictive permissive turn signal is installed. Mr. Newman said that the Cabinet does not have that information, but that it is checking a national database and will report back at the committee’s next meeting.
Chairman Collins request that rather than going over every Highway District 9 project in the Cabinet’s 2008 Highway Plan, that Mr. Newman discuss the projects that the county judge executives raised concerns about during this meeting. Mr. Newman said the KY 57 By-Pass extension that Judge Foxworthy discussed is Item No. 179.00 in the Cabinet’s Highway Plan. The Plan reflects right-away funds of $1,050,000 and utility funds of $210,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2010, and construction funds of $5,410,000 in FY 2012, totaling $6,670,000 for the project.
Mr. Newman said that Route 377 that Judge Nickell is also in the Cabinet Highway Plan, Item No. 8406.00. This project reflects $243,330 for planning, $1,216.650 for design, and $4,428,600 for right-away all in FY 2010, totaling $5,888,580 for the project through the right-away phase.
Mr. Newman said that both the bridge on Satterfield Lane that Judge Belcher referred to and Straight Fork Road that Judge Applegate referred to are county roads and would not be listed in the state’s Highway Plan. He said that he would check into both situations. He said he felt that the Straight Fork Road situation was more critical because of the 40 or 50 families that would be cut off if that road should fall into the creek.
In closing, Mr. Newman said that he understood everyone’s concerns for more blacktopping. He said with the skyrocketing cost for blacktop the state is in the same dilemma as the counties, wondering if some of the state roads would be reverting back to gravel due to the lack of funds to maintain them.
Chairman Collins referred the members to Item V. on the committee’s agenda; Reorganization order E.O. 2008-502, relating to the reorganization of the Motor Vehicle Commission, and asked if the members had any concerns with the executive order. Seeing no objections the chairman noted that the committee approved the order.
The last item on the committee’s agenda was the approval of a letter to the Kentucky congressional delegation urging the continuation of the Delta Queen’s exemption to the Safety of Life at Sea Act. With no objections to the letter drafted by staff, Chairman Collins asked a copy be sent to each of Kentucky’s delegates.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:35 p.m.