infrastructure

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.”


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.”

The Department of Transportation has announced new federal voluntary guidance on the development and use of automated vehicles — with the goal of "removing unnecessary barriers" to innovation.

Motorists are being warned to be prepared for a major resurfacing project that begins Tuesday night along a stretch of Interstate 65 in southern Kentucky.

All six lanes of the interstate are being repaved between mile markers 35 and 44, which covers the Oakland area to the Cumberland Parkway exit.

Wes Watt, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office in Bowling Green, says the resurfacing work will be done in the late evening and early morning hours, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Becca Schimmel

After nearly 30 years of construction and a budget that rose into the billions, Olmsted Locks and Dam passed the first tow barge through its system at a ceremony Thursday on the Ohio River.

The $3 billion infrastructure improvement by the Army Corps of Engineers is the most expensive inland waterway project in U.S. history and is touted as the hub of the nation’s river navigation system.

“We know that this lock and dam is going to be here for decades and that’s a big deal,” Matt Lowe said. He was the project manager for Olmsted from 2012 to 2016 and he was in the crowd of dignitaries to dedicate the project at a ceremony Thursday. 


Mark Doliner/Creative Commons

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s plan to keep up with emerging automotive technology—like self-driving vehicles-- is to maintain existing roads and bridges. But that strategy may face challenges as cars become more efficient and less reliant on gasoline. The state’s road fund relies heavily on revenue from gas taxes.

A report from the Center for Automotive Research, a non-profit research group, forecasts fully automated vehicles could be ready for mass production by 2040. Bernard Swiecki is with the Center’s Industry Labor Economics Group at the Center for Automotive Research. He said communities need to take into consideration the likelihood of more self-driving and electric vehicles when building a new facility.

Creative Commons

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.

Flickr/Creative Commons

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.

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