Skip to Main Content

Transportation Issues Hit Bumpy Road

Transportation Issues Hit Bumpy Road

Bill and his guests discuss transportation issues. Scheduled guests: State Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Prospect, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee; State Rep. Hubert Collins, D-Wittensville, chair of the House Transportation Committee; State Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, member of the House Transportation Committee; and State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, member of the Senate Budget Review Subc
S22 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere: 6.7.15

Transportation-focused Legislators Face Bumpy Road

They have 27,000 miles of paved roads to maintain, constituents clamoring for a number of new transportation projects, and a shrinking pool of money with which to make it all happen.

To say state highway officials have a thankless job might be an understatement.

A panel of legislators who oversee transportation issues gathered on Monday’s Kentucky Tonight to discuss a variety of issues that could affect drivers across the commonwealth in the years ahead.

A Bridge for Northern Kentucky
There’s little debate that something needs to be done about the aging and crumbling Brent Spence Bridge that carries traffic between northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.

Sen. Robin Webb (D-Grayson), who sits on the Senate Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation, says the bridge and surrounding transportation infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the explosive population growth in the region. She notes that drivers on the eight-mile stretch of Interstates 75 and 71 leading up to the bridge are up to five times more likely to be in an accident than anywhere else in Kentucky, Ohio, or Michigan.

“I think the congestion, traffic-flow pattern, and safety issues all hinge around the proposed project for the Brent Spence Bridge,” Webb says. “But there does need to be some consensus about how to pay for it.”

Local opposition to putting tolls on the bridge to help pay for the $2.6 billion project have so far stymied progress on the proposal. Webb says she generally opposes tolls because she contends they place a greater burden on lower-income drivers.

Rep. Hubert Collins (D-Wittensville) and Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Prospect), who chair their respective chamber’s transportation committees, say the region likely can’t get a new bridge without tolls. Harris adds that if the new Ohio River bridges being built in Louisville didn’t include tolls, the project would’ve consumed all of the federal transportation funds allocated for the commonwealth, leaving no money for any other projects in the state.

House Transportation Committee member Rep. David Floyd (R-Bardstown) sees the tolling issue as a matter of fairness.

“The advocates in northern Kentucky are so zealous about protecting their constituents that they don’t want anything to do with any tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge replacement,” Floyd says. “The people around Kentucky… they’re going to be paying for that otherwise, [so] why not the people who are using it – especially since it may not even be able to be done without them.”

The P3 Debate
Civic and business interests have pushed public-private partnerships (P3) as a way to help bring the Brent Spence plan to reality. But legislation to allow the state to partner with private entities on transportation projects has failed in the past two legislative sessions. A P3 bill died in a Senate committee earlier this year, and Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed P3 legislation that passed the General Assembly in 2014 because it included a prohibition on tolling.

Sen. Harris says he sees P3s as “another tool in the toolbox” for state transportation officials. He points to how Virginia used such a partnership to build a beltway around Washington, D.C., where drivers pay a $2 toll. Proposals for P3s and tolls are linked because the private entity usually wants some source of revenue to recoup their investment in the construction project, according to Sen. Webb.

But Harris and Webb along with Rep. Floyd caution that the partnerships must be closely managed for transparency and accountability and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being properly used. If those issues can be resolved, Rep. Collins says he thinks P3s could help the state build other large transportation projects in the commonwealth.

Declining Funds for Transportation Projects
Debates over P3s and tolls aren’t the only challenges facing Kentucky transportation issues. They’re also facing deep uncertainty about the availability of federal and state funding.

The national Highway Trust Fund could run out of money this summer without another re-authorization from Congress. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says about a third of the state’s overall transportation funding comes from the federal trust fund. Without that money going forward, Collins says projects already in the state’s road plan could be in jeopardy.

State lawmakers have also had to grapple with declining revenues to Kentucky’s road fund, which is financed with proceeds from the state gas tax. The tax is linked to the average wholesale price of gasoline, so as fuel prices dropped over the last year, so have the state’s gas tax revenues. Collins says a one-cent reduction in the gas tax results in a $30 million revenue loss for Kentucky.

The state had already lost about $165 million in revenues before legislators froze the tax at 26 cents per gallon earlier this year. Harris says future adjustments to the tax will be made annually instead of quarterly, and will be capped to a 10 percent change up or down. The senator says that provides a much more stable base of money for the fund.

Those declining revenues can not only impact big projects like four-laning the Mountain Parkway and similar efforts in central and western Kentucky, but can imperil smaller roads and bridges. Collins says 48 percent of the road fund is distributed to counties for local maintenance and construction projects.

“The counties were really in big trouble because they were losing that money and there was concern that they weren’t going to have any money to resurface roads,” says Collins.

Now that the gas tax is stabilized, what happens if people simply purchase less fuel because they’re driving hybrid and electric cars? Lawmakers are considering several options to recoup those lost revenues.

Collins says that Georgia has implemented a flat fee of $200 on drivers of new alternative vehicles. Rep. Floyd adds that Oregon and other states are considering taxing residents based on the number of miles they drive, but he’s concerned that might dissuade drivers from purchasing more fuel-efficient cars.

Finally Harris says he might float a bill in a future legislative session that would apply the fuel tax to an annual average of miles driven by electric and hybrid vehicle owners. He says he wants to “get the discussion going” about how maintain road fund revenues as cars become more efficient.

New Driver’s Licenses
As if funding, building, and maintaining roads and bridges isn’t enough work, state transportation officials are also have to figure out how to implement new federal security standards for driver’s licenses called REAL ID.

“As early as January of next year, the feds could require… you to have this ID or a passport to fly on an airplane within the U.S.,” says Harris. “We don’t like that idea of having something like that, but that’s reality.”

Harris says the problem for Kentucky is that local circuit court clerk’s offices aren’t set up to handle some of the security measures needed to issue the enhanced driver’s licenses. He predicts drivers will need to be issued a temporary license, and then receive an official license from Frankfort several weeks later.

Sen. Webb says she’s concerned REAL IDs will become a surveillance tool for the Department of Homeland Security. She opposes the idea that states will be required to share an individual’s driving record and other personal information with federal authorities, and she fears the IDs will be used to limit a person’s access to airplane flights and government buildings.

Program Details

Kentucky Tonight

About Kentucky Tonight

Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, is an hour-long, weekly public affairs discussion program broadcasted live on Monday evenings. Discussions focus on issues confronting Kentuckians.

TV Schedules

Jump to Recent Airdates

Upcoming

Voting Rights and Election Laws

Host Renee Shaw talks with her guests about voting rights and election laws. Scheduled guests: Secretary of State Michael Adams (R); Joshua A. Douglas, University of Kentucky election law professor; State Rep. Jennifer Decker, Republican from Waddy; State Rep. Buddy Wheatley, Democrat from Covington; Corey Shapiro, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky; and James Young, former elections director in Louisville.

  • Wednesday April 21, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 21, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday April 26, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday April 26, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday April 27, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 27, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 27, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 27, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 27, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 27, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 28, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 28, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 28, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 28, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 28, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 28, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday May 3, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday May 3, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday May 4, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 4, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 4, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 4, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 4, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 5, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 5, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 5, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 5, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 5, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday May 10, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday May 10, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday May 11, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 11, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 11, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 11, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 12, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 12, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 12, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 12, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 12, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Tonight

  • Monday May 17, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday May 17, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Tuesday May 18, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 18, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 18, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 18, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 18, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday May 18, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
Jump to Upcoming Airdates

Recent

Voting Rights and Election Laws

  • Wednesday April 21, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 21, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 20, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 20, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 20, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 20, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 20, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday April 19, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday April 19, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET

Recap of the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly

  • Wednesday April 14, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 14, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 14, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 14, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 14, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday April 14, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 13, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 13, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 13, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 13, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday April 13, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday April 12, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET

2021 Legislative Session

  • Wednesday March 31, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 31, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 31, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 31, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 31, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 31, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 30, 2021 11:48 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 30, 2021 10:48 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 30, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 30, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 29, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday March 29, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET

School Choice

  • Wednesday March 24, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 24, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 24, 2021 9:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 24, 2021 8:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 24, 2021 1:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 24, 2021 12:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 23, 2021 11:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 23, 2021 10:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 23, 2021 2:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 23, 2021 1:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 23, 2021 6:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 23, 2021 5:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 22, 2021 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Monday March 22, 2021 7:00 pm CT on KET
Top

Season 22 Episodes

Candidates for Governor

S22 E43 Length 56:40 Premiere Date 10.26.15

Candidates for Lieutenant Governor

S22 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.18.15

Candidates for Attorney General

S22 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.12.15

Candidates for Auditor of Public Accounts

S22 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.5.15

Candidates for Commissioner of Agriculture

S22 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.28.15

Candidates for Secretary of State

S22 E38 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 9.21.15

Candidates for State Treasurer

S22 E37 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.14.15

Issues Impacting the 2015 Election

S22 E36 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 8.24.15

Health Care: A Reality Check

S22 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.16.15

Tough Choices Ahead for State Budget

S22 E34 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.9.15

Jobs and Wages: Behind the Numbers

S22 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.26.15

Tax Reform: The Issue That Won't Go Away

S22 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.19.15

LGBT Rights and Religious Liberty

S22 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.12.15

Postsecondary Education

S22 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.5.15

Discussion on Public Employee Pensions

S22 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.28.15

Education Discussion

S22 E27 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 6.21.15

Energy and the Environment

S22 E26 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 6.14.15

Transportation Issues Hit Bumpy Road

S22 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.7.15

Analysis of the 2015 Primary

S22 E24 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 5.31.15

Kentucky Republican Governor Primary

S22 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.10.15

Democratic Primary for State Treasurer

S22 E18 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 4.12.15

Republican Primary for State Treasurer

S22 E16 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 3.29.15

2015 Kentucky Elections

S22 E15 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 3.22.15

General Assembly Breakdown

S22 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 3.15.15

2015 Ky General Assembly

S22 E13 Length 56:46 Premiere Date 2.23.15

Telephone Deregulation

S22 E11 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.9.15

Local Option Sales Tax

S22 E10 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.2.15

2015 Kentucky General Assembly

S22 E7 Length 56:48 Premiere Date 1.5.15

2015 General Assembly

S22 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12.15.14

Executive Order on Immigration

S22 E4 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.24.14

About

Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, is a public affairs discussion program broadcasted live on Monday nights at 8/7c on KET and KET.org/live.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form on this page. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

After broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on KET.org and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonightwas awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

To purchase a DVD:

Call 1-800-945-9167 or e-mail shop@ket.org.

Contact

Explore KET