Fayette County

Lexington wants $556 million from federal stimulus package

A new downtown transit center, a renovation to the old Fayette County Courthouse, a Public Safety Operations Center and an expansion of a waste water treatment plant are all part of Lexington's $556 million wish list of infrastructure projects to be funded through a proposed federal stimulus plan for states and cities.

Lexington tried to submit all projects that met the criteria of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, said Susan Straub, Mayor Jim Newberry's spokeswoman.

Criteria for the stimulus includes projects that would quickly create jobs, would improve infrastructure the private sector needs to succeed, would produce lasting economic and environmental benefits and could be completed within two years.

The $556 million project list would generate an estimated 8,928 jobs.

"These are important projects that we have been unable to afford," Straub said. "The fact that Lexington was able to identify 196 important projects that can be completed in two years demonstrates how far behind we are in funding community needs."

Projects that will improve Lexington's environment are Newberry's top priority, Straub said.

Those projects include $18 million to expand the West Hickman Waste Water Treatment Plant, $15 million for an anaerobic composter that would generate usable electricity for homes and businesses, $12 million for a regional recycling facility and green industrial park and $19 million for a 15-mile Lexington-to-Versailles rail with trail project to provide alternative transportation.

Lexington's list and other requests from the U.S. Conference of Mayors has been incorporated into a bill that is beginning its journey through Congress this week. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has set Feb. 13 as a target date for final passage.

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler is confident Central Kentucky will benefit from the economic recovery package, but said it's premature to comment on the chances of Lexington's requests, said Jennifer Krimm, Chandler's spokeswoman.

Newberry was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, "working to convince our legislative delegation of the importance of supporting this bill," Straub said. "Mayors from throughout the country are similarly engaged."

Newberry is optimistic that the stimulus package will be approved, Straub said.

Lexington's project list has grown by more than $400 million since November, when the original $125 million list was submitted.

The initial list was of infrastructure projects that could be completed in one year. The current list is of projects that can be completed in two years.

The list was created by soliciting input from leaders throughout the community including Fayette County Public Schools, LexTran and the airport, Straub said.