Politics & Government

Kentucky Road Fund to see minimal growth

Kentucky’s Road Fund is struggling to meet infrastructure demands, largely because a drop in gasoline prices in recent years reduced the amount collected from the motor fuels tax, Gov. Matt Bevin said Tuesday.

“Because gas prices are going down, I encourage all of you to go out there and drive more,” Bevin joked during his budget address to the General Assembly.

Total Road Fund revenues are expected to decline during this fiscal year and rise minimally in 2017 and 2018, holding at about $1.4 billion in each of those years, according to Bevin’s budget proposal.

Bevin said he would use at least 15 percent of the state-funded portion of the Road Fund for maintenance and repair of bridges. Kentucky has about 400 bridges that have been identified as structurally deficient and in need of repair, he said.

The governor said his other priority projects include widening Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County for tourism and development; investing $38 million for a study of changes in traffic flow and repairs to the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky; committing $10 million a year for the maintenance and expansion of airports; and continuing the Mountain Parkway expansion in Eastern Kentucky, with a focus on the segment in Magoffin County.

Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, said she hadn’t read Bevin’s Road Fund proposal yet, but she believed the legislature “put together an excellent four-year road plan” in 2014 and she hopes the governor respects it. Continuing former Gov. Steve Beshear’s commitment to widening and extending the Mountain Parkway is very important, Combs said.

“That’s the future of Eastern Kentucky right there, in terms of economic development. That’s gonna produce jobs,” said Combs, chairwoman of the House budget subcommittee on transportation.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics