Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, September 1, 2009, at 3:00 PM, at the John W. Black Community Center in LaGrange, Kentucky. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., David E. Boswell, R.J. Palmer II, John Schickel, Brandon Smith, and Gary Tapp; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, Keith Hall, Charles Miller, Lonnie Napier, Rick G. Nelson, Tanya Pullin, Steve Riggs, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.
Non Members: Representatives Brad Montell and Fred Nesler.
Guests: County Judge/Executives Duane Murner, Oldham County; Melanie Roberts, Bullitt County; Rob Rothenburger, Shelby County; David Jenkins, Spencer County; Harold Tomlinson, Carroll County; and John Brent, Henry County. Larry Chaney, Director of Transportation, Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA); Tim Wakefield, Assistant Chief, Oldham County Police Department; and from the Transportation Cabinet, Chuck Knowles, Deputy State Highway Engineer and Matt Bullock, Chief District Engineer, District 5.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Brandon White, Dana Fugazzi, and Linda Hughes.
Senator Boswell moved to approve the Committee’s August 4, 2009 minutes, as submitted. Representative Ballard seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.
Oldham County Judge Duane Murner welcomed the members to the region and introduced several county officials.
Larry Chaney, Director of Transportation, KIPDA, discussed planning, growth, and regional activities in District 5. He stated that KIPDA is the conduit for federal funds earmarked to the Louisville MPO (Jefferson, Bullitt, Oldham Counties). KIPDA does the regular transportation planning required of other ADDs. He said that prior to the state compiling its Six Year Road Plan, the Transportation Cabinet solicits recommendations from agencies like KIPDA. Mr. Chaney stated that this process is not as seamless as it should be, and that often times, it is suburban areas that are left out.
Mr. Chaney cited the difficulties with spending the recent stimulus funds earmarked for the Metro Area because of planning issues. He also cited statistics about the poor conditions of Kentucky roads (one-third of pavements rated poor or worse) and bridges (one-fourth of bridges are deficient or obsolete), as well as the fact that Kentucky ranks in the top five states nationally in fatalities due to road hazards.
Speaking on the historical changes, basic infrastructure challenges, pressing issues, and tax base data in select District 5 counties were Judge Melanie Roberts, Bullitt County’ Judge Duane Murner, Oldham County’ Judge Rob Rothenburger, Shelby County, and Judge David Jenkins, Spencer County.
Judge Roberts said that Bullitt County has approximately 26,000 households with a median income of $56,000. She indicated there has been a 22.5 percent increase in population since 2000, and the percentage is projected to 53 percent by 2030. She said that nearly 65 percent of Bullitt County workers work in Jefferson County. Judge Roberts stated that the County’s roadways have existing capacity or safety deficiencies and the projected growth will only exacerbate the problems.
Judge Rothenburger stated that Shelby County roadways, like Bullitt County’s, need attention. He also said that a large number of bicyclists from Jefferson County ride the back roads of Shelby County routinely and without bicycle trails this causes numerous concerns for not only the cyclists, but also the county’s motoring public. Recognizing the state’s financial situation, Judge Rothenburger suggested that pamphlets be made available to the cycling public setting out the rules of cycling on public roadways.
Judge Rothenburger noted the importance of updating Highways 53 from Shelby County to Oldham County, and Highway 55 from Shelby County to Spencer County. He said that both highways are important to the region and asked for the state’s assistance in this infrastructure need. He also encourage that counties that are not in MPOs get planning money like metropolitan areas do.
Judge Jenkins stated that Spencer County has been the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth for the past 20 years, with a growth rate of 73 percent. Its largest employer is the school system. This high growth rate was the first in the state and the 7th in the nation. He said that the county receives over one million visitors yearly at the Taylorsville Lake. He noted the county’s roads are in dire need of work and echoed Judge Rothenburger request for updating highways 53 and 55.
Judge Murner stated that Oldham County, with a population of 57,000, is a high maintenance county, with its median household income of $73,500. He said that the county is always in the top four or five percent in the Commonwealth for population growth, with two-thirds of its population working in Jefferson County. Judge Murner stated that Oldham County does not have an occupational tax, that its revenue relies strictly upon real estate taxes or insurance premium taxes. Judge Murner stated that Oldham County needs highway infrastructure, i.e., widening, turning lanes, exit ramps, traffic lights, interchanges, as well as public transit.
All four judges indicated that their counties’ needs and focus, as suburban counties, were economic development, which relies upon highway infrastructure and for Oldham County, also public transit.
When asked how the judges determine their highway needs such as resurfacing, widening, or a traffic light installed at a particular intersection, all four stated that those determinations depend upon traffic volume, traffic patterns, safety, population growth, financial responsibility, as well as interconnectivity.
At this time, Judge Harold Tomlinson, Carroll County, and Judge John Brent, Henry County, indicated that updating their highway infrastructure was one of their primary goals and offered several incidents that supported this need.
The next item on the Committee’s agenda was a presentation of major construction projects in the suburban counties in District 5. Chuck Knowles, Deputy State Highway Engineer and Matt Bullock, Chief District engineer, District 5 discussed these projects with the Committee. After the presentation, Mr. Knowles stressed the need to emphasize system preservation in the next budget cycle.
The last item on the Committee’s agenda was a presentation on bicycle safety by Lt. Tim Wakefield, Assistant Chief, Oldham County Police Department. Lt. Wakefield said that in his experience the bicycle public does not understand bicycling laws when riding on the Commonwealth’s roads. He advocated ensuring the knowledge by having cyclists tested and issued permits to operate a bicycle on a highway.
Co-chairman Collins informed the members that the Committee’s October meeting would be held in Pikeville, with a tour before the meeting and a cookout following the meeting. He noted that pertinent information regarding this meeting was in the members’ folders.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m.