Kentucky Transportation Projects Can Win Share of $200 Billion in Federal Funding
Brent Spence Bridge, I-69 Crossing are likely contenders
By Chad Carlton
P3 Kentucky Publisher
Public-private partnerships can help Kentucky win some of the anticipated $200 billion in priority federal funds for much-needed highway, bridge and other public infrastructure projects, a top federal administrator said recently.
The infrastructure fund, announced earlier this year by President Donald Trump, will use $200 billion in federal funds over the next decade to leverage up to $1 trillion in infrastructure spending through private-sector investment.
“Federal money is going to be available for major infrastructure projects, “said Thomas Nelson, Kentucky Division Administration for the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. “It’s important to have projects that are shovel ready because that’s where the dollars will be directed.”
P3 Kentucky caught up with Nelson after he delivered remarks about the new federal infrastructure plan at the annual Kentucky Partnering Conference, which brings together the private and public sector partners who build and maintain Kentucky’s transportation network.
The event, which drew hundreds of engineers and transportation professionals is a joint venture of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Kentucky Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies, a P3 Kentucky Roundtable member.
Thomas cited four principles of the Trump Administration’s plan:
- Targeting investment in transformative projects
- Leveraging private-sector involvement and solutions
- Streamlining project delivery, which lowers costs
- Encouraging “self help” by state and local governments, which translates into investing dollars through taxes, tolls or other revenue streams
P3 is “certainly one of the elements” to winning a share of the unprecedented funding stream for public infrastructure, Thomas said.
it’s important for leaders of communities and states to take seriously the “self help” principle in the four-point federal plan if they want to get a share of the funds, Thomas said.
“It’s about finding the funds at the local and state level to leverage more federal dollars,” he said. “Tolls fit into the mix in some communities that can generate the needed funding. But in some other areas, we need to find creative ways to generate revenue streams.”
Kentucky can best position itself to get a share of the $200 billion pot by focusing on moving projects to “shovel-ready” status, Thomas said. And Gov. Matt Bevin has certainly placed a priority on two major projects already.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is working to complete the environmental approval process for the I-69 Ohio River Crossing, an interstate bridge between Henderson, KY, and Evansville, IN, that would complete a bi-state corridor of commerce. The project could be shovel ready in just over two years.
KYTC is also working on solutions for replacing the Brent Spence Bridge to untangle a logjam between Cincinnati and Covington that’s increasingly threatening commerce along the I-75 corridor. Depending on the solution, an environmental approval and construction plan could also be on the two-year path to construction.