infrastructure

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Kentucky’s aging drinking water and sewer systems need billions of dollars in investment to prevent system failures impacting public health and the environment, according to Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Current investments aren’t enough and the state needs nearly $15 billion in additional infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years, said Deputy Cabinet Secretary Bruce Scott to the Senate standing committee on natural resources Monday.

“We have to make an investment, we cannot avoid making the investment in water and sewers and dams,” Scott said. “The only real question is when.”

US Army Corps of Engineers Facebook

A Bowling Green microbrewery is teaming up with Western Kentucky University and two non-profit groups to celebrate conservation efforts in southern Kentucky. The White Squirrel brewery is releasing a new beer called the “Belle of the Green River”, which is made with water from the Green River.  

Lauren Hendricks is the chairwoman of the Forecastle Foundation, which works to conserve watersheds and restore the natural flow of waterways. The group supported efforts last year to remove Lock and Dam Number Six on the Green River in southern Kentucky. She said the foundation has already helped restore nearly 200 miles of the Green River by removing locks and dams.

Kimberly Shatney

Shortly after this story aired West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that the state had secured federal funding needed to help Pine Grove finish a nearly $50,000 repair project for its failing sewer system.

According to a Thursday, May 31, news release from the governor’s office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, confirmed final approval this week for a public assistance grant requested by Pine Grove. The $37,000 grant reflects a 75 percent cost share from FEMA. Pine Grove was among the communities included in a federal disaster declaration prompted by last summer’s flooding in north-central West Virginia.

Justice said a civil contingency fund under the governor’s control will provide the remaining 25 percent, or just over $12,000, for repairs at Pine Grove which include repairing units for dozens of individual property pump wells.


Nicole Erwin

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao made several stops in Kentucky yesterday. She met with local officials in Bowling Green, Owensboro and Paducah. Chao addressed the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce during its Public Policy Luncheon Thursday.

She is the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a President’s cabinet and the only Kentuckian appointed since WWII.

“Kentucky has shaped my perspective during discussions in Washington over the administration’s infrastructure initiative.  Under the President’s infrastructure proposal, rural America will no longer be left behind.” Chao said.

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Businesses that have invested in Kentucky’s delayed statewide broadband network are concerned that the budget passed by legislators earlier this week doesn’t provide enough certainty that the state will hold up its end of the public-private partnership.

Under the budget, which is currently being considered by Gov. Matt Bevin, KentuckyWired would be funded as a “necessary government expense,” meaning Bevin would have the choice to fund the project using money from the state’s rainy day fund or in the event of a budget surplus.

Benny Becker

A water system in eastern Kentucky that was on the verge of collapse could soon get much needed improvements. Many Martin County, Kentucky, residents were without water for long periods this winter. The crisis drew attention amid a national discussion about infrastructure priorities, and put a spotlight on the sort of water woes that are all too common throughout Appalachian coal country.

Now nearly $5 million in federal funding is on the way to patch up parts of the Martin County system. But the flow of federal money comes amid lingering concerns about management and spending by local officials, and questions about how Martin County’s water system got into such a state of disrepair.


Ryland Barton

A spokesman for a regional Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office said his agency isn’t as affected by state budget cuts as some other parts of government. But he said the legislature needs to talk about updating the funding model to keep up with technological changes like electric vehicles.

The transportation cabinet relies on a gas tax for the majority of its funding. Because Kentucky has so many interstates that tax often provides the money needed to maintain and update roads and bridges. Spokesman for the state transportation cabinet office in Elizabethtown, Chris Jessie, said lawmakers will have to consider new funding models given the increasing popularity of electric cars.

Mary Meehan

When a Madison County jail task force examined overcrowding in their jails, they found that about 80 percent of the inmates were there on drug related charges. This led the county to look at how a public-private partnerships could help fund a new substance abuse treatment center

Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said the county’s jail is overcrowded and building a new one would cost about $50 million. He said a new jail would need to have 800 beds and it would probably be full or overcrowded in about ten years. Taylor said he didn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to build a new jail without looking at what they could do to reduce recidivism.


Rhonda J Miller

A group of education officials representing districts across the country will be touring a Warren County elementary school Friday to get a close-up look at an energy-saving material used in construction. They’re visiting to learn more about the construction of net zero schools, or schools that produce enough energy on site to cover their needs.

Jennings Creek Elementary will be a net zero ready school, meaning it’s built in a way that allows it to eliminate the cost of energy. The school is one of a many in Kentucky using insulated concrete forms, or ICF, to reduce energy costs. Warren County is home to the nation’s first net zero school--Richardsville Elementary, which opened in 2010.

Becca Schimmel

U.S. Senator Rand Paul said Congressional Republicans are shifting their focus away from health care after several failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The Bowling Green Republican said healthcare is taking a backseat to tax reform this fall.

Sen. Paul expects tax reform to be at the forefront of Congress’ agenda. He said lawmakers need to figure out what government can do to allow businesses to grow and thrive.

“My goal is basically to have more money return to its rightful owners, the people who earned it. We have to have some taxes, we gotta have some government, but I think we need more money to remain in the economy,” Paul said.  

US Army Corps of Engineers

Locks and Dam 52 on the Ohio River in western Kentucky is open to traffic after a week of being closed. The Corps of Engineers reports water is rising and expects the river to return to normal summer levels by the weekend.

The wickets at Dam 52, function like a bathtub to keep water in and establish a navigable level of water. During times of low water, wickets have to be raised individually.

Last week the corps was unable to raise about five wickets near Paducah, creating a hole and further lowering the water to an impassable level. Communications Director Carol Labashosky said they’re continuing work on Dam 52 but a more permanent fix is in progress.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jon Fleshman

Another breakdown at an aging lock and dam has halted river traffic on the Ohio in western Kentucky. It’s the second such interruption in less than a year for a stretch of river that carries some 90 million tons of cargo annually.

“A lot of commerce does go through that section and delays cost the industry money,” Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District public affairs officer Carol Labashosky said. “That’s a very, very important, crucial spot on the Ohio River.”

Nicole Erwin

The impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is reigniting talk about national infrastructure needs. Parts of southern Kentucky recently saw flooding after Harvey moved inland. Kentuckians are facing billions of dollars in water infrastructure needs, and uncertainty on a federal infrastructure spending plan.

 

President Trump has mentioned the need for a one-trillion-dollar national infrastructure investment, but no details have come out. Most of the projects on Kentucky’s infrastructure wish list deal with highways and roads, not water.


Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition Formed

Sep 6, 2017
KENTUCKY INFRASTRUCTURE COALITION VIA FACEBOOK

More than 30 organizations representing interests from manufacturing to farming and engineering are coming together to form a new Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition. 

The aim of the group is to prevent the decline of the state’s multifaceted infrastructure system.

Coalition Chair Juva Barber, who directs Kentuckians for Better Transportation, says the group formed to advocate for and provide solutions to the state’s transportation needs. 

Public Domain

After years of dwindling returns, revenue into Kentucky’s road fund was higher than expected during the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

But state officials say that won’t happen again this year because money gleaned from motor fuels is due to be flat and vehicle registration taxes aren’t expected to surpass projections again.

The road fund finances state road and bridge construction across Kentucky. The fund’s main sources of money are gas tax revenues, which are pegged to the price of gas, and the motor vehicle usage tax, which is paid when someone buys or transfers ownership of a car.

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