Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Kentucky House Pulls US 641 Funding

Crittenden County Judge-Executive Perry Newcom says partisan politics are to blame for the Kentucky House of Representatives pulling money for construction of the new U.S. 641 highway between Marion and Fredonia from the current funding cycle. A story on the front of this week's issue of The Crittenden Press contains errors based on outdated information.

Newcom has been working his contacts in Frankfort today and is mobilizing local leaders who may return to Frankfort as they did this past winter to re-emphisize the economic consequences of not getting the road finished as soon as possible.

The U.S. 641 improvement project was started four years ago, but virtually no work has been done in more than a year.

Gov. Matt Bevin had included in his budget proposal released earlier this year $54 million to finish the highway through Crittenden, Caldwell and Lyon counties. The House pulled it out yesterday.

Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted against the transportation proposal, House Bill 305. He Wednesday afternoon that Democratic leadership in the lower chamber and its transportation committee has successfully pulled the vast majority of the funding needed for the project. However, he remains optimistic that the Senate will get the plan back on track in the coming days.

If the Senate and House transportation budgets end up at odds later in this legislative session – which local leaders are hoping for – a conference committee will help decide the fate of the highway.

The Transportation Cabinet had announced in January that bids would be let in May on completing the Crittenden County portion. If funding is not reinstated by the Senate, it appears the grass road bed south of Marion will go untouched until 2019, according to the House version of the transportation plan.