Kentucky's transportation infrastructure impacts our state's economy and every individual Kentuckian's quality of life
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Kentucky is home to 51 (soon to be 52) general aviation airports that serve regional needs and six commercial airports that provide scheduled passenger and/or air cargo services. Kentucky is a national leader in aviation and aerospace services thanks to our many local and regional hubs and clusters, and we hope to support these important resources in the following ways:
- Advocate for adequate sustainable funding for airports in the Commonwealth and support the economic impact of all of Kentucky’s airports.
- Study the opportunity for a one-time allocation of funds to address current and ongoing needs at all Kentucky airports.
- Modernize aviation revenues and increase aviation infrastructure spending to avoid falling further behind Kentucky’s surrounding states.
- Eliminate barriers that could hinder the storage and charging of electric and autonomous aircraft and motor vehicles at Kentucky’s airports.
- Create an atmosphere of innovation and discovery in Kentucky to encourage the rapid development and expansion of new industries, including advanced air mobility (AAM).
Over 80,000 miles of roads run through the state, connecting the far fields of Hickman with the hollers of Jenkins. Over 14,000 bridges connect these roads, but many of these roads and bridges are in desperate need of maintenance and repair. Fully funding Kentucky’s road and highway network has an exceptional return on investment, but to ensure a healthy road system, Kentucky must:
- Reform the current road fund mechanism to ensure Kentucky’s road fund maintains a healthy balance through a modernized funding structure that considers electric vehicle usage, gasoline prices, and future sources of renewable energy and fuel.
- Recommend the formation of a task force to map Kentucky’s transition from our current fuel funding methods to an electric/hybrid driven transportation system.
- Implement an inflationary index (National Highway Construction Cost Index) to preserve the value of the motor fuels tax
- Recommend allocating all moneys generated by the electric charging fee be deposited in the state road fund as the future replacement of lost motor fuels tax revenue.
- Until reforms are implemented, restore the two cents per gallon motor fuels tax that was suspended July 1, 2022, and implement a general fund transfer of to replace the lost revenue from the motor fuels tax suspension. We then recommend moving the motor fuels tax floor to 28 cents per gallon to establish that level as the minimum state motor fuels tax and abolish the old motor fuels tax formula.
- Focus on funding long-term, permanent fixes to Kentucky’s bridges instead of temporary solutions that ultimately lead to higher costs to taxpayers with a lower return on investment.
One of the most traditional modes of transportation, Kentucky’s rich history in rail usage ties into several other modes and allows for an environmentally friendly and efficient way to move freight across state. More than 59 million tons of freight rail originates in Kentucky, and we must support this crucial infrastructure by:
- Educating on the need for a grant matching program that would assist with rail and freight-related economic development projects.
- Discussing the opportunity for a rail study focusing on the needs of the freight rail industry, including maintenance and bridges to potentially be completed via KYTC.
All of Kentucky’s 120 counties have access to some means of public transportation. Public transit is crucial to economic development, workforce growth, educational attainment, and meeting basic human needs. To continue supporting Kentucky’s transportation lifeline, the state should:
- Provide adequate funding in the public transportation budget to allow public transit authorities to leverage federal grant programs. Every two dollars in local and state funding will leverage eight dollars in federal funds.
- Support rural transit authorities as Kentucky’s aging and disabled populations, some of the most frequent users of public transit, continue to grow and the demand for such essential services continues to increase.
- Utilize public transit as a mechanism to connect local communities with regional employers to create local workforce pipelines to assist citizens in obtaining and maintaining employment.
- Study the benefits of a state planning system and formula allowing public transit authorities the opportunity to appropriately plan for needs.
- Encourage education of the general public on public transportation availability and uses, especially non-emergency medical transport.
Kentucky has over 1,900 miles of USACE designated navigable waterways and the highest total of inland USACE designated navigable waterways for any state in the continental USA. Waterway and riverport usage are some of the most crucial and efficient ways to reduce congestions amongst other freight modes. To support this mode, Kentucky should pursue:
- A $15 million one-time appropriation for asset preservation for Kentucky’s public riverports.
- An increase in ongoing annual state support in the biennial budget and explore the potential for the establishment of a dedicated revenue source
- Changes to the existing grant program to place annual state funding in the Riverport Financial Assistance Trust Fund rather than the currently utilized KY Riverport Improvement Grant Program
- Collaboration with state economic development efforts recognizing the significant opportunities provided for by Kentucky riverports
Safety is important for all transportation modes, but especially for driver, biker, and pedestrian awareness. From 2016-2020, Kentucky saw 3,852 highway related fatalities, including 413 pedestrians and 35 bicyclists during that same timeframe; which places Kentucky above the national average. Vehicular, pedestrian, and biking travel can all be high-risk modes, and Kentucky should adopt policies supporting safer personal travel by focusing on the following areas of need:
- Study the safety implications of autonomous vehicles on public roadways, including but not limited to freight, public transportation, or private use vehicles
- Support road worker safety with awareness campaigns and advocate for proven strategies focused on the safety and health of workers and roadway users.
- Implement a Safe System approach in Kentucky which acknowledges that no one should lose their life or be seriously injured because of a crash; the human body has a limited physical ability to tolerate crash forces; road safety is a shared responsibility; and all parts of the system must be strengthened so that if one part fails, road users are still protected.
- Support local communities in identifying biking and pedestrian projects that could utilize funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act
- Support policies specific to active transportation, which is defined as human- powered mobility, such as biking or walking. Active transportation is effective at conserving fuel, reducing vehicle emissions, bridging the first- and last-mile gap, and improving individual and public health. Bicycles, electric bikes, wheelchairs, scooters, and even walking are all considered active transportation.
- Support comprehensive transportation infrastructure plans that takes drivers, bikers, and pedestrians into consideration when developing future roads, as outlined in the Complete Streets Model.