Interim Joint Committee on Transportation

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 4th Meeting

of the 2013 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> October 1, 2013

 

Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> 4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday,<MeetMDY2> October 1, 2013, at<MeetTime> 9:00 AM, at Pine Mountain State Resort Park<Room>. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll. Minutes from the September 4, 2013 meeting were approved and Administrative Regulation 601 KAR 1:147 was reviewed.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Jimmy Higdon, Ray S. Jones II, Morgan McGarvey, Albert Robinson, Brandon Smith, Johnny Ray Turner, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Keith Hall, Kenny Imes, Terry Mills, Rick G. Nelson, Tanya Pullin, Marie Rader, Steve Riggs, Sal Santoro, John Short, Arnold Simpson, Fitz Steele, Jim Stewart III, and Addia Wuchner.

 

Guests: Stephen Eastin, Park Manager, Pine Mountain State Resort Park; John Burke, Cumberland Gap Tunnel Authority; Mike Hancock, Secretary, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet; Ron Rigney, Director, Davison of Program Management; and Nancy Albright, Executive Director, Office of Project Delivery and Presentation.

 

LRC Staff: John Snyder, Dana Fugazzi, and Christina Williams.

 

Welcome and opening remarks

††††††††††† Stephen Eastin, Park Manager, Pine Mountain State Resort Park, welcomed members of the committee and guests to the Park. Pine Mountain is the oldest State Park in Kentucky, having been established in 1924. He said that Pine Mountain has much to offer visitors and he highlighted several upcoming events at the park.

 

Representative Nelson thanked Hinkle Contracting for sponsoring the committee breakfast, and recognized Kevin Houston, Area Manager for Hinkle, who was in attendance.

 

††††††††††† Discussion of Appalachian Highway funding under MAP-21

††††††††††† Mike Hancock, Secretary, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and Ron Rigney, Director, Division of Program Management, Transportation Cabinet, began a discussion of Appalachian Highway funding under MAP-2, the most current federal highway funding bill.

 

††††††††††† Mr. Rigney stated Congress authorized the construction of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) in the Appalachian Development Act of 1965. The ADHS was designed to generate economic development in previously isolated areas, supplement the interstate system, and provide access to areas within the region, as well as to markets in the rest of the nation. The ADHS is a system of designated corridors and roadways within the 13 states that make up the Appalachian Region. The 13 states that the ADHS system runs through are New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Kentucky is in the Central Sub-region, one of five sub-regions.

 

††††††††††† The ADHS is authorized at 3,090 miles. By the end of FY 2012, 2,494.3 miles were under construction. Many of the remaining miles will be among the most expensive to build. Completion of the ADHS remains a top priority for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

 

††††††††††† Mr. Rigney stated no new funds are authorized specifically for the ADHS Program in MAP-21, but funds authorized in earlier acts remain available until expended. In Kentucky there are $35 million in remaining Appalachian Development Highway Program (ADHP) funds. However, to spur the completion of the designated ADHS, MAP-21 provides that the federal share is 100 percent (no matching funds are required).

 

††††††††††† Kentucky has eight corridors on the ADHS, consisting of 575 miles of roadway, and has completed six of the eight corridors with 546 miles of Kentuckyís ADHS completed. Kentuckyís two remaining ADHS corridors are US 460 in Pike County and US 119 in Letcher County.

 

††††††††††† The estimated construction cost to complete the US 460 ADHS corridor in Pike County is approximately $150 million. The estimated construction cost to complete the US 119 ADHS corridor in Letcher County is approximately $460 million. Mr. Rigney stated the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) intends to complete the US 460 ADHS corridor to Virginia and the US 119 ADHS corridor in Letcher County.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins, Secretary Hancock stated the cabinet will continue with the planned course of action to use approximately $49 million per year in National Highway Performance funding to work toward completion of both the US 460 and US 119 corridors. This amount equals the previous amount of ADHP funding when it was a separate category.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Steele concerning US 119 in Harlan County, Secretary Hancock stated the Appalachian Highway Program began in 1965, and as it began a number of corridors were identified as being part of the system, but funding was only set aside in certain amounts for certain things. As far as the Appalachian Highway funds and the process to date, only the two corridors (US 119 in Letcher County and US 460 in Pike County) are a part of the program. Other routes on the Appalachian Highway System remain eligible for the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funding.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Pullin, Secretary Hancock stated the final two sections (US 119 in Letcher County and US 460 in Pike County) are some of the most expensive roads to construct, and typically that is why those roads end up being constructed last. All other needs are met, and then the extra expense is sought out to try to finish the high expense road projects. Secretary Hancock stated a mile of construction in the mountains can cost approximately $20 million a mile in some areas.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Chairman Harris, Secretary Hancock stated the ADHP funds themselves can only be used for the construction of a new route, and if maintenance for another Appalachian highway route is needed, funds must be acquired from other sources to accomplish that.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Nelson, Secretary Hancock stated Congress, in MAP-21, deemed that ADHP projects were eligible for the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP). If there was an ADHP eligible route, the Federal Government would allow that to be funded under NHPP. It is Secretary Hancockís decision to incorporate the eligible routes into the stateís road plan.

 

In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins, Secretary Hancock stated trying to get the Federal delegation to include the Mountain Parkway in the Appalachian designation is irrelevant since there is no separate funding category for the AHDS roads going forward.

 

In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins regarding time of completion of US 460 in Pike County and US 119 in Letcher County, Secretary Hancock stated the highway plan has the completion of those projects spread out over the next few years. He stated for the US 460 corridor; the valley section should be under construction within the next year. Secretary Hancock stated $49 million a year is allotted in the road plan for those projects and evaluations are being made on how to apply that money over time to complete the corridors. The goal of the completion of construction on US 460 is for it to be completed by the year 2017 or 2018, and the goal for US 119 is beyond the year 2020.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Imes concerning I-66, Secretary Hancock stated I-66 was a concept that at one point was envisioned extending from West Virginia into Kentucky, and then across Kentucky and exiting Kentucky to Illinois and Missouri. Studies have been done to indicate if I-66 were to ever be constructed the proper location for the interstate would be along the I-24 corridor as it exits into Illinois. He stated not only do studies indicate that placement, but Congressional actions say it must follow along the I-24 corridor. Secretary Hancock stated in Eastern Kentucky the I-66 corridor has envisioned being tied into KY-80 which would then run to I-75 to Somerset and tie into the Louie B. Nunn Parkway, and then extend into Western Kentucky. Funds for that corridor have been very hard to acquire. There has been some focus on areas around Somerset, and there is still preliminary work underway between Somerset and I-75. Beyond that, the funding has not materialized for I-66 in Kentucky. Secretary Hancock stated as the state of the Federal Highway Trust Fund is evaluated, and the difficulty that the country is having funding major projects, such as the I-66 corridor, the opportunity appears bleak that I-66 across Kentucky will ever materialize.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Simpson concerning Pine Mountain being in the plan, Secretary Hancock stated Pine Mountain would be in the plan and the cabinet has projects that are identified in the highway plan today that will complete the valley floor section, between the south side of the mountain and Cumberland, just east of Harlan County. He stated that part of the project is under way, however, there are parts that will be done over the next few years. The eventual plan for Pine Mountain is to construct a tunnel through the mountain. The Pine Mountain Tunnel would be longer than the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.

 

In response to a question asked by Representative Simpson, Secretary Hancock estimated the total cost of the Pine Mountain Tunnel project to be $450 million, which would include the valley floor sections, as well as the tunnel itself. He indicated $450 million is just shy of the $500 million that is needed for it to be considered a ďmega project.Ē

Representative Combs stated in order to get from one side of Letcher County to the other side, which is her district, she has to cross Pine Mountain sometimes as much as three times per day in order to meet her constituents needs. She indicated road work is being done, or will be done soon, on both sides of the mountain and eventually the Tunnel will be needed to complete the project.

 

Kentucky Transportation Maintenance Activities

††††††††††† Nancy Albright, Executive Director, Office of Project Delivery and Presentation, began discussing Kentucky Transportation Maintenance Activities.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright stated the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet actively monitors how it spends funds on maintenance activities each year. She stated there is a pretty intensive program within the maintenance program itself that it conducts every year to measure how it spends resources regarding those activities. The target for each of those activities is 80 percent of the goal.

 

††††††††††† One maintenance activity the cabinet measures is ditch cleaning. Ditch cleaning is an important activity because the water is an enemy of the pavement, and in order to keep pavement in good condition, it must keep the water moving. In the previous 6 years, the cabinet has not met its benchmark on ditch cleaning. The cabinet is improving on ditch cleaning, but still has a long way to go.

 

††††††††††† Another maintenance activity the cabinet measures its performance on is how it handles trees on the right-of-way. The cabinet is not meeting its target. Particularly in Madisonville and Elizabethtown, the cabinet is having a hard time meeting its target because that area was the hardest hit from the 2009 ice storm, and as a result there were several downed trees. The cabinet saw a spike in the evaluation score because after the storm there were fewer trees to deal with. However, in FY 2012 and FY 2013, the cabinet is already seeing trees recover to the point where it is spending money to actively maintain those areas.

 

††††††††††† Guardrail repair is another maintenance activity the cabinet measures. There are two ways that guardrail maintenance can be measured. In this particular presentation, the cabinet is measuring the guardrail that already exists. The cabinet is notified that a guardrail needs replaced or fixed when it receives a call from the police or a citizen. In other instances the drivers that the cabinet sends out to ensure it knows where all of the damaged guardrails are, notifies them. The cabinet will spend the money and resources it needs to make sure the guardrails get repaired. Across the state, the cabinet feels that it is doing pretty well managing guardrail repair. Ms. Albright stated when a guardrail is reported as damaged, it is repaired as soon as possible.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Chairman Harris, Ms. Albright stated that guardrail includes cable barriers and the cabinet measures that as well.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright stated once the guardrail is installed, KYTC does its best to make sure it stays in good repair. The issue remains that there is a great need for several more guardrails to be installed, therefore the cabinet will continue to seek funding for installation.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Riggs concerning the ability to collect reimbursement from insurance companies on damaged guardrails, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet has staff who coordinate the repair and the claims damages with the insurance companies. Representative Riggs stated he would like to see more information on the efficiency of the collection of funds for damaged guardrails and if there is any success in that area. He stated the cabinet is measuring its performance, but not measuring the performance of the cabinetís subrogation. He stated it is worrisome to him that there is a possibility of funds that the tax payers can be reimbursed, but the reimbursement is not happening. Representative Riggs asked if the cabinet sues anyone for the funds to be recovered. Secretary Hancock stated the claims process is housed within the legal office and is geared toward the direction of recouping as much money as possible. One of the issues is that the cabinet does not always know who hits the guardrail, and there is not always a police report to refer to. Secretary Hancock stated several of the damaged guardrails are noticed when traveling staff notices them and there is no way of knowing who did it.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Chairman Collins, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet has never met its benchmark on vegetation clearance.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Couch, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet will not be requesting the full $42 million needed to install all 295 miles of new guardrail needs identified, but it will request an increased amount from current level funding requests.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Stewart, Secretary Hancock stated he could look into the State Police placing a hold on the vehicles responsible for damaging guardrails, but he does not believe that has ever been done before. He added the legal office has a process it follows routinely.

†††††††††††

††††††††††† Senator Smith stated the trees and foliage that make the eastern part of the state beautiful also make it very dangerous, and there is often a need for trees to be cut back off of the roads. In response to a question asked by Senator Smith concerning the equipment needed to clear the roads from trees, Secretary Hancock stated any equipment that is located at any place within the state may be used elsewhere in the state if that equipment is currently sitting idle. The cabinetís policy is that the equipment needs to be where it will be used.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright stated another maintenance activity that is measured is pavement ride quality on state maintained highways. She stated neither the public, nor the cabinet believes the cabinet is at its full performance potential with this area and there is room for improvement.

 

Secretary Hancock stated pavements are a key part of what the cabinet does, and its resurfacing program budget has been fairly constant at $98 million annually. He indicated that an upcoming budget request from the cabinet may request a larger amount for pavements in the upcoming biennial budget request.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Senator Smith, Ms. Albright stated the pavement work at Slade at Natural Bridge used a high friction surface that is skid resistant, and so far the cabinet has been pleased with that product.

 

††††††††††† Shoulder maintenance is another maintenance activity that the cabinet measures. Because of a lack of funding, when the cabinet is pressed for resources, it tends to ensure driving lanes are better maintained than the shoulders, and as a result the KYTC has not met the benchmark on shoulder maintenance.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright stated the cabinet is exploring alternatives as to how it maintains roadways and pavement preservation moving forward, which would include not only the resurfacing program and the requested increase that it will most likely submit, but also include the alternatives to helping spend. She stated spending $1.00 while the road is still in good condition, is much less expensive than spending $4.00 or even $5.00 for more expensive treatments if repair spending is delayed.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright stated if $10.5 million is invested in the current pavement process, 75 percent of the benchmark would be realized by the cabinet, but if $10.5 million were invested in preventative maintenance of the pavements, 92 percent of the benchmark of either good or fair condition would be realized, and that is what it is aiming for.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright discussed bridge preventative maintenance. Washing and cleaning the bridges, lubricating the bearings, sealing the deck joints, cleaning the drains, painting steel (including spot painting), removing debris from the channels and scour protection is all part of a bridge preventative maintenance plan.

 

††††††††††† Ms. Albright stated part of the cabinetís unknown cost factors that impact its budget is emergency bridge repairs. In Kentucky there are bridges that are hit and the cabinet has to take steps to repair the damages, which may include shutting down the bridges or restricting them down to only one lane. An emergency contract is put together to make those repairs. Another unknown cost factor that affects the cabinetís budget is unexpected snow and/or ice that may occur either before season or after season in any part of the state.

 

††††††††††† †The breakdown of the approximate $42 million needed for snow and ice expenditures includes 11 percent of that amount needed for state equipment, 35 percent of that amount for contract equipment, 32 percent for materials, 21 percent for state labor, and 1 percent for miscellaneous needs.

 

††††††††††† Chairman Harris stated he appreciates the cabinetís self analysis on its performance.

 

In response to a question asked by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Albright stated the $10.5 million preventative maintenance is a per year total and that consistent amount can do more than a one-time infusion of cash.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Westerfield, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet has a staff that goes out and measures the ride quality using not only a nationally recognized set of equipment, but technicians as well. Those technicians have the sole job to drive around the state, measure and collect data. That data is then assembled into a computer program that measures how many potholes per mile, how much rutting may be occurring per mile, and that information is taken and aggregated together so that for any given mile of roadway, the cabinet can evaluate that information and combine it into a score of good, fair or poor. The cabinet also combines the collected information with the amount of traffic and type of roadway that it is. Interstates have a higher expectation of a standard. Ms. Albright stated the data is collected using material that is housed under the underside of a bumper on a vehicle. There are lasers housed under those bumpers that measure down onto the pavement if the vehicle is driven at highway speeds.

†††††††††††

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Steele, Ms. Albright stated most of the salt Kentucky purchases for use in the winter originates in Louisiana, but there are two or three different vendors that then transport the salt up the river and offload it in Portsmouth, Knoxville, Paducah or Louisville. The cost of a ton of salt varies across the state, near Louisville there is a much lower bid because transportation cost is lower so the cost is near $65 to $70 per ton. In Eastern Kentucky where transportation is a little more, the cost becomes in the $80 or more per ton.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Wuchner concerning an inventory of equipment and the budget projections over the years, Ms. Albright stated the maintenance replacement of the equipment thatís owned by the state is included in the projections but has a different category.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Senator Smith, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet anticipates being prepared for approximately 250,000 tons of salt usage in a year.

 

Senator Smith stated the lack of water quality that has been attributed to coal for the last several years has also been impacted by the salt left behind during the winter months. He stated from a chemical side, salt is forever, and it gets into the streams, and a lot of that salt is not separated back out and then the throwback becomes on coal.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Simpson concerning the state paying out claims for people who hit potholes, Secretary Hancock stated he is unsure of how much the State pays out annually for pothole claims, but he will gather that information and provide it for the committee. The process for claims for potholes is similar to some of the activities the cabinet goes through to try to fund reimbursement on guardrails. People have actually had cars disabled because of potholes, and there is a process that has to be gone through to make the claim, and then collect on that claim. Secretary Hancock stated he does not know exactly what the liability is in those cases, but it suffices to say when the cabinet knows a pothole is there, it works to fill it as quickly as possible because it does not want to create incidents through the cabinetís own negligence.

 

††††††††††† In response to a question asked by Representative Imes, Ms. Albright stated the cabinet does not allow the inmate labor program to be utilized out on the interstate system because of safety issues. She stated the cabinet does utilize the inmates occasionally for brush clearing and weed eating and that she will explore the possibility of using them for drainage in the future.

 

††††††††††† Chairman thanked members and guests for attending the meeting and adjourned the meeting at 10:20 AM.

 

††††††††††† After the conclusion of the meeting, interested committee members took a tour of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel and were briefed on the operation of the facility.