Now is the time for increased investment in all modes of transportation, according to Kentuckians for Better Transportation (KBT). Chairman Grant Gabbard, former chair Mark Day and KBT leaders testified before Kentucky legislators recently to demonstrate how funding for multi-modal transportation projects can accelerate recovery in times of economic downturn.
In recent sessions with state senators and state representatives, KBT outlined how many different modes of transportation, like airports, railways and water ports, were in a dire funding situation previous to COVID-19 and have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Sec. Jim Gray encouraged legislators to be “cautiously aggressive” in addressing the need for funding now. “I’ve been through five recessions in my career and this is arguably the worst,” said Sec. Gray. “We must be responsible but still aggressive.”
Encouraging lawmakers to address lowered revenues to the Road Fund due to COVID-19, Gray pointed out that the value of every $1 spent on transportation is equal to $1.70 return on investment in Kentucky. Healthy at Home initiatives, closings of non-essential businesses and lighter travel have all led to lower revenues from motor fuels and vehicle usage in the Road Fund. With more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road that pay less gas taxes and lower overall gas tax revenues since 2015, the funding to maintain the transportation systems that get the people of Kentucky to work, school and other important places needs to be addressed.
Lawmakers pointed to Martin County’s recent water crisis as an example of the dangers of deferred maintenance on Kentucky’s vital infrastructure pieces, warning of a ‘day of reckoning’ if we don’t spend the money now to maintain and improve our current roads and bridges.