As I write this, work is being done to improve and widen Industrial Road from US 42 to US 25. That is Phase 1. Phase 2 expands and widens Industrial Road from US 25 to Turkeyfoot Road. Last year, Phase 2 was on the 6 year plan. This is important because a road cannot be funded unless it is on the 6 year plan.
Now in the Governor's first version of the 6 year road plan Phase 2 was removed. I made getting Phase 2 back on the 6 year plan this year a top priority for several reasons. First, I knew the chances of new roads being put on the 6 year plan was next to zero. Second, the cities of Elsmere and Independence and Kenton County each put up $100,000 for a local match to help the project along. Well, that money has been spent on Phase 1 (which is in none of those jurisdictions). It is unfair that their money is spent outside their areas and the part in their area is gone from the list.
I had the opportunity to share this with the Governor. I believe he interceded on my behalf to get it in the House version of the 6 year road plan because it was in there.
So then of course the budget goes to the Senate. In the Senate, Phase 2 came out, along with every other project the house added in their version. I don't blame the Senate, they treated every new project equally, it got cut out. Later, I was hopeful that Phase 2 would reappear in after the conference committee. That did not happen as again no new projects came out of the conference committee. So I thought it would be out for at least two years.
This is one of the more interesting things about this job, nothing is ever certain. Today the Governor vetoed HB 79, the biannual Highway Plan. Here is his statement:
FRANKFORT, KY (April 28, 2008) – Gov. Steve Beshear today vetoed House Bill 79, the Legislature’s version of a highway construction plan, citing the unprecedented manner in which it would have constrained his administration in the coming biennium.
“This legislation unnecessarily limits the ability of the Transportation Cabinet to make the kind of adjustments that are always necessary when implementing hundreds of road and bridge projects,” the Governor said.
In his veto message, the Governor said HB 79 would have severely limited the Transportation Cabinet’s ability to deal with project cost overruns.
“Without this veto, some critical projects may have to sit idle because the actual costs could exceed the amounts set forth in the bill,” he said. Adding to that untenable position, no change to the highway plan, no matter how badly needed, could be made without new legislation.
The Governor said he had directed Transportation Secretary Joe Prather to publish the Commonwealth’s highway plan combining all the projects he originally recommended with projects the Senate and the House added in their respective budget memorandums. In that way, all such projects can be considered for funding.
The state road plan will “provide maximum flexibility for the maintenance and the construction of the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure and maintain consistency with past practices,” the Governor said.
The plan also will contain a number of needed projects inexplicably omitted in HB 79. A listing of those projects will be made available when the replacement plan is published.
“There will not be enough funds available to move forward with every project included in the substitute plan,” Beshear added. “However, including them in the plan signifies their importance to me and my desire to move forward with them when funds become available.”
The way I read this, it looks like Phase 2 will be back in. I am going to try to confirm this.