Matt Bevin hopes to increase speed limits, prioritize infrastructure projects in Murray, W.Ky.

07/31/2015 06:02 PM

MURRAY — Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin is calling for a greater emphasis in western Kentucky infrastructure, saying he would increase the speed limits of three Murray highways to 65 mph and prioritize projects in the area.

The locale is part of an area of the state where Bevin boasts his highest margins over Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, and the Louisville investment manager pledged to pay greater attention to the “booming” section of Kentucky if elected governor Nov. 3.

“It’s so often easy for people to come down here for Fancy Farm, you roll in, you check the box for visiting western Kentucky, you swing up, you talk to a few people in Paducah, and then you leave,” Bevin told reporters with traffic driving on US-641 and KY-80 behind him.

“And this has historically been what politicians do, and then those here in western Kentucky often feel forgotten about and, frankly, for somewhat good reason. Some of that’s politically driven. Some of it, it’s easy to forget about people that are farther away.”

Bevin says raising the speed limits from 55 mph to 65 mph on US-641, KY-80 and nearby US-45 will improve logistics for local producers, such as farmers, as well as stores and other vendors in western Kentucky communities.

The 65-mph proposal would be enacted via executive order as soon as possible, Bevin said, noting that the safety of his proposal would be explored before it takes effect. Other Kentucky highways could also see their speed limits rise in a Bevin gubernatorial administration, but he said he focused on the three western Kentucky highways with Fancy Farm festivities set to begin Saturday.

“Where there is an appropriate way to do so without compromising safety, without compromising the ability to do what we’re trying to accomplish, which is have economic development that makes sense, and economic development is more than bricks and mortar,” he said.

“It’s the ability to move goods and services, and so you’ll bet I’ll be looking at it at other places. There just happens to be a connection of two of these roads right over my shoulder, which is why we’re talking about these three today.”

Bevin also called for the completion of three highway projects in the area — widening US-641 in two places at a total cost of $43 million and extending the KY-80 bypass to the Jackson Purchase Parkway at a cost of $10 million. Those are among the top priorities for the Purchase Area Development District, Bevin said.

But he stopped short of promising the projects outright, instead pledging to bring a greater awareness to the need for such local infrastructure improvements.

“Governors should be aware of the fact that there is need in the community, the community being the state of Kentucky, and how can we get the best return on taxpayers’ money,” he said. “This is an area I’m convinced we can get a good return.”

Bevin’s decision to speak on infrastructure issues in Murray comes a day after the latest Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV, found the GOP nominee with double-digit leads in western and southern Kentucky’s congressional districts — 18 points in the 1st Congressional District and 10 points in the 2nd Congressional District.

Overall, he trails Conway by 3 percent in a head-to-head contest and 5 percent in a match-up that includes independent candidate Drew Curtis, who has not officially filed for the race, according to the poll results.

Bevin speculated that Conway’s positions on a number of divisive issues like same-sex marriage have, in part, caused voters in western Kentucky to jump on the Republican’s bandwagon.

“They see his support of gay marriage as opposed to traditional marriage. That doesn’t play well in this part of the state or, frankly, in much of the state,” Bevin said.

“They see his stance on Obamacare. That doesn’t play well in this part of the state or in much of the state. They see his stance on the life issue, where he’s strongly in support of not only abortion providers, but of Planned Parenthood, which is in the business, as we are increasingly seeing, of selling baby parts. It’s sick and disgusting.”


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