Despite uncertainty, road plans pass smoothly

05/25/2010 05:01 PM

FRANKFORT — After a day and a half of uncertainty, the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee overwhelming passed a two-year and four-year road plan Tuesday afternoon.

Negotiations between the House and Senate lasted up until the last minute, and the ink was barely dry on copies of the bills when the committee convened at 3:30 p.m. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that a detailed list of priorities from the Senate wasn’t received until late Monday, causing some lawmakers to question whether leaders of the two chambers would come to an agreement on which road construction projects to include.

The two-year road plan, the one mostly likely to pass both chambers during the special session, includes $1.6 billion in total projects for 2010-11 and $2 billion in projects for 2011-12.  Among the projects would be upgrades to bridges at Land Between the Lakes as well as the Ohio River Bridges Project and upgrades to roads around the military base at Fort Knox.

The bill passed with only one “No” vote, from Rep. Fred Nesler, a Mayfield Democrat.

In addition to the two- and four-year road plans, the committee also approved the Transportation Cabinet’s operating budget of $2.1 billion in 2011 and $2.7 billion the following year.

Rep. Sannie Overly

Rep. Sannie Overly, who oversaw all three bills, said that the two-year road plan includes all the priorities of the Senate in some way.

“We attempted to incorporate (the priorities) in the two-year plan,” Overly said. “Some are in there and some not, but let me say that all projects are in there in some form or fashion.”

Perhaps the bill with the most contention was the four-year road plan, which passed overwhelmingly, but not without reservations from many representatives.

“I’m not as comfortable with this as I am with the 2-year plan,” said Rep. Don Pasley, a Winchester Democrat. “I’m not sure all the members, who are dealing with the special session and the Senate, have had time to look at the out years.”

Others worried about political favoritism in the four-year plan.

“We need to strive to create bills that have a certain degree of regional fairness,” said Rep. Arnold Simpson, a Covington Democrat. “I don’t know if projects we receive (in Northern Kentucky) are fair. When projects are skewed to some counties it makes me not want to be a team player.”

—Kenny Colston

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