Friday, January 11, 2008

Kentucky congressman keeps getting federal funds for rural interstate no other state wants to build

"U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers has funneled nearly $90 million in federal funds toward a proposed interstate highway in Kentucky that likely will never cross the state, much less stretch beyond its borders," R.G. Dunlop of The Courier-Journal reported in a two-day package of stories last month. They're still timely and worth reading.

"Despite the substantial expenditure of funds, not a single shovelful of dirt has been turned on Interstate 66, conceived nearly two decades ago as a coast-to-coast corridor that would run through Southern Kentucky," writes Dunlop, a former Eastern Kentucky reporter for the Louisville newspaper. "Since then, it has been abandoned by every other state as unnecessary or too expensive. Nevertheless, Kentucky continues to push forward, urged on by I-66 supporters, including local politicians and economic-development officials, and driven by Rogers' powerful influence as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee." (See next item.)

Dunlop notes that "Only two short, widely separated segments of I-66 have even reached the planning stages," one of them in Rogers' home Pulaski County and the other in Pike County, home of former Gov. Paul Patton, a Democrat who renamed the state's Daniel Boone Parkway for Rogers, a Republican. Environmentalists say the Pulaski route would threaten natural areas and caves, and the Pike segment "would roughly parallel a newly upgraded $400 million four-lane highway," The C-J reports. But Patton, reflecting Rogers' economic- development theory for the road, says being near a numbered interstate highway is "almost magical." (Read more) For the rest of the package, which includes plenty of maps, other graphics and videos, click here.

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