Tonight, in addition to attending multiple City Council meetings in order to soak up some knowledge, I also attended a meeting of the Jefferson County League of Cities. The topic tonight was on transportation and the presenters were State Senator Ernie Harris (SD 26) and Jerry Miller (HD 36).
Transportation Issues are the top concern of my constituents and as Jerry Miller said it’s all my voters seem to care about this election is traffic, traffic, traffic.
Abby Piper, Spokesperson for JCPS discussed the settlement with the State to avoid a takeover and the Corrective Action Plan crafted to address the 58 deficiencies listed in the Audit.
She said the biggest concern is with student assignment, which every large community wrestles with this same issue. They are going to be seeking out in depth feedback from the pubic about. There is great tension between offering school choice versus neighborhood based schools. We have hard facts to face. Bad data we have to work toward amending. She said she’s excited they are on the cusp of something great and they hope to be a national model for a turnaround.
And they face a great need to upgrade facilities. We have not built a new High School in 50 years. Fayette has several new schools. Two elementary schools are located close to one another and they’re both at 50% capacity. They plan to build four or five new schools (HS, MS and Elementary) by 2021.
State Senator Ernie Harris spoke. Three billion in the budget is 2.3 billion from the federal government and 700 million from the state. State funds come primarily from gasoline taxes and State sales taxes. He basically boiled down our problem to transportation projects are planned years in advance and we’re become over-reliant on this gas tax, our toll credits from other projects are gone, we need more revenue. Gasoline prices are so low and have been for so long the state changed the funding formula. New vehicles are more fuel efficient and there are more hybrids on the road. Bottom line. No more revenue, means no more road improvements.
We have 3,000 deficient bridges in Ky. Without tolls, we would never construct another bridge and we need two – Henderson and NKY. Real safety concerns exist on I-65 where six lanes merge into four, then back to six, then back to four. 69% of all truck traffic out of Nashville comes across I-71. It has to be widened. He is recommending a 10% increase in the gas tax.
State Rep Jerry Miller. Jerry made mention of recent plans for more housing and businesses – 2,000 housing units are being planned between Shelbyville Road and LaGrange Road. Another 1,000 housing units near Taylorsville Road. Building expensive homes is going to add to our tax base and that’s good. And our city needs the extra property taxes but we need road improvements in order to accommodate the growth.
Federal funding isn’t going to be available unless its matched by State funds.
There were a lot of good questions and comments from the audience. I offered a few myself.