infrastructure

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Crews are working through the Thanksgiving holiday to repair the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Covington to Cincinnati across the Ohio River.

The bridge has been closed since November 12, when a truck hauling potassium hydroxide crashed into a jackknifed truck, starting an intense fire.

Repairs are expected to be complete by December 23.

Drivers who need to cross the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky can find detours at brentspencerepair.com, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said during an update Wednesday morning.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

David Meinschein’s teachers, staff and students have sacrificed a lot this year amid the staggering challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. 

He opens the door heading inside Ballad Memorial High School’s basketball gymnasium — known locally as the “Green Palace” for its school colors. The school’s emptiness is another reminder of COVID-19’s impact. But as assistant superintendent of his school district, he’s proud of the resilience his teachers, students and staff have shown. Meinschein thinks the pandemic could compare to another historic event. 

“I think in a decade from now, we will see that this will be similar to going through the Great Depression,” Meinschein said. “That stoicism and that mentality that came out of the Great Depression, I think you will see that in people as we move forward.”


Alexandra Kanik I Ohio Valley ReSource

When 78-year-old Jim Casto looks at the towering floodwalls that line downtown Huntington, West Virginia, he sees a dark history of generations past. 

The longtime journalist and local historian is short in stature, yet tall in neighborhood tales. On Casto’s hand shines a solid gold ring, signifying his more than 40 years of reporting at the local paper. “It was a lot cheaper to give me a ring than to give me a pay raise,” he said with a chuckle. 

 

He walks up to the entrance of Harris Riverfront Park, one of 21 gate openings in the more than 3.5 miles of floodwalls covered in decades of charcoal-colored grime and dirt.


Red Bird Mission

Communities across the Ohio Valley are among an estimated 2 million Americans that do not have consistent access to clean drinking water and basic indoor plumbing, according to a report published Monday by two nonprofits, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance.

The report titled, “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States,” synthesized data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, including its American Community Survey, to identify six areas of the country where access to clean water is lagging. That includes some communities in Appalachia, which the report lists among six “hot spots” for inadequate water access.

“From all the data sources we looked at, we know at least 2 million people in the U.S. don’t have access to running water or a working flush toilet,” said George McGraw, founder of DigDeep. “But we also know because of some errors with the census that the number is probably much higher than that.”


Caitlin McGlade

State inspectors have watched the Loch Mary Reservoir Dam in Western Kentucky deteriorate for at least a decade. But it wasn’t until this spring that the state wielded its enforcement power and required the city get to work, or risk penalties.

Now, the city of Earlington in Hopkins County has begun taking steps to fix the dam. A KyCIR investigation published in August revealed that the Loch Mary was among dozens of dams in Kentucky without disaster plans as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Administration — even though the dams were in bad condition and would threaten lives or property if they breached.

Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

In a conference hall in Pikeville, Kentucky, this September, Gov. Matt Bevin led an eager audience in a countdown. When the audience reached “One!,” a map on the screen behind the governor lit up with the promise of a high-tech future.

After years of delay and scandal, major portions of the commonwealth’s “middle mile” of high-speed internet were complete.

“There are so many negative haters, so many people who pooh-pooh things and say this can’t happen, it’s not possible,” Bevin told the crowd. “But I’ll tell you what. We’ve never quit.”


Becca Schimmel/WKU Public Radio

If you live in Owensboro or Daviess County and have thoughts about the area’s transportation needs, now’s the time to sound off.

Residents are being asked to fill out a seven-question survey that will help the local Metropolitan Planning Organization prioritize both short-term and long-term transportation goals.

Some of the questions on the survey involve residents’ opinions on the construction of new roads, bicycle lanes, and public transit options.

Tom Lovett is with the Green River Area Development District, which is overseeing the survey. He said he’s trying to cast as wide a net as possible to ensure he hears from as many residents as possible.

Mark Doliner/Creative Commons

Automakers are increasingly investing time and research into creating driverless vehicles, but a Kentucky expert says the new technology could face hurdles if the necessary infrastructure isn’t created.

President Trump and members of Congress have repeatedly tried and failed to make a deal on an infrastructure spending package. According to a report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Kentucky’s roads are improving, but there’s still about six billion dollars’ worth of unfunded projects.


Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has been granted another extension on compliance with the REAL ID Act. This will allow current state driver’s licenses to be used for air travel until October 2020.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has determined that the Commonwealth is fully compliant with the new ID regulations. This follows a pilot launch of new driver’s licenses, permits, and IDs in Franklin and Woodford counties.

 

When the pilot period ends a county-by-county rollout will begin. The REAL ID Act of 2005 set new nationwide requirements for identification.

Becca Schimmel

If you don’t know exactly where the Tompkinsville water plant is you probably won’t be able to find it.

I drive past a high school, over a bridge and take a left into a narrow driveway. Down the hill, a small gray building comes into view. Walking up the road is Jonathan Shaw, the supervisor of this small water plant. He said he’s proud to be the one responsible for delivering clean, potable water to the people of Tompkinsville.

 

“I tell people all the time...I say I’m the water boy,” Shaw said.  


Becca Schimmel

The screen door of a now vacant house swings open on a windy but sunny day on Wyndcrest Drive in Daviess County.

 

The large front window of a place one couple called home for 50 years is gone. Inside sits a single chair and some forgotten decorations on the wall. This house is in the middle of an area prone to repetitive flooding.

 

Daviess County Emergency Management Director Andy Ball has another name for it.

 

“This is what we like to refer to, us and the county engineer, as the 'cereal bowl' of the neighborhood,” he said. “This is where all water, once it starts slowing down and backs up...this is where it all kind of flows out of the creek. This is the worst area down here.”


Public Domain

Drivers in Kentucky are at a higher risk of losing their lives on rural roads than they are on rural roads across the rest of the country, according to a new report.

A report released on Wednesday by TRIP, a national transportation research group, ranks Kentucky as having the seventh highest fatality rate on rural, non-interstate roads at 2.54 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The fatality rate on all other roads in the state is nearly two-and-a-half times lower at 1.02 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, according to the study.

Pixabay

Vivian Livingood is the mayor of Gilbert, a southern West Virginia town of under 500 people that has struggled for years without reliable internet. Livingood said that hampers Gilbert’s tourism, businesses and schools.

“We get kicked off the internet here every two minutes, and that’s if we can afford the internet,” Livingood said. “And it’s just pitiful service. It’s not fast.”


Kentucky Gets C- on Infrastructure Report Card

Feb 6, 2019
Becca Schimmel

Kentucky earned a grade of C- in a new infrastructure report card from the state’s American Society of Civil Engineers. The state received a grade of C in the last infrastructure report card in 2011. Kentucky’s civil engineers looked at the Commonwealth’s aviation, roads, bridges, drinking and waste water and energy.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently instituted a program to restore more than one thousand bridges across the state. The repairs are expected to extend the life of the bridges by 30 years. Tom Rockaway is the chair of Kentucky’s infrastructure report card committee.

Becca Schimmel

U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie wants to bring broadband access to more Kentuckians. He said it helps economic development as well as quality of life.

About 22 percent of Kentuckians don’t have access to broadband. One of the biggest challenges with providing reliable internet access to more people is building the infrastructure. Guthrie said better access to faster internet means connecting more people to flexible work and allowing companies to remain competitive.

 

“So even if you’re doing old school manufacturing it uses modern technology and you have to have it,” he told WKU Public Radio. “So if you have counties that just don’t have it overall they just can’t compete in terms of trying to attract businesses to put people to work and grow the county.”

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