State Determined To Build I-66; Feasibility Questioned

FRANKFORT, KY -- Despite growing opposition from citizens' groups to the proposed Interstate 66, and evidence that the highway isn't needed or justified economically, the administration of Gov. Steve Beshear has pledged its support for the multibillion-dollar project, reports the Louisville Courier-Journa in its Sunday edition.

Project opponents and officials of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have exchanged letters in recent months staking out their respective positions, and have held one meeting, on June 11. However, neither side appears to have given ground.

Chris Schimmoeller of Kentucky Heartwood, one of the advocacy groups fighting I-66, said she and other opponents told cabinet officials during the meeting that they would prefer to collaborate with the state on alternatives to constructing the road through southern and Eastern Kentucky. One option would be widening portions of Ky. 80 in Laurel and Pulaski counties, reports the C-J.

But she added that she also told the cabinet: "If you elect to proceed (with the interstate), we're going to fight you to the bitter end."

"They smiled and nodded," Schimmoeller said.

Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe said, "the project is continuing to go forward. I-66 is not being reviewed for possible scaling back."

Beshear's office issued a brief statement last week saying that while he appreciated opponents' interest in the project, he "is following the recommendations of the Transportation Cabinet in this matter."

Wolfe also said the cabinet "has no plan to revisit the economic justifications for I-66," as project opponents have requested, the C-J reports.

But those justifications are now more than a decade old. And state Rep. Harry Moberly Jr., D-Richmond, chairman of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said he thinks taking a fresh look at the project's purpose and need would be sound public policy, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Moberly told the C-J, "I wouldn't have any problem with that at all. I think that probably ought to be done."

Copyright - The Louisville Courier-Journal

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  • by Brittany Location: Harlan on Aug 2, 2008 at 04:59 PM
    Me, I'm all for the building of Interstate 66, I just believe that, along with others, it needs to be moved south to Letcher, Bell and Harlan county. I have lived in this area all my life and let me say that it is dying quickly. Jobs are disappearing leaving nothing but the mines and Harlan County has the highest dropout rate of the ENTIRE STATE. The city of Cumberland in Harlan County only has 1 grocery store for the tri-cities. This place is diapering and the quality of life here has decreased. The Interstate would bring this place the economic growth that is so much needed for this area. Because of our area's separation from the rest of the world that people like Hal continues to ignore, Prices here have skyrocketed. Gas is still at 4 dollars and Cooking oil at 3 for the smallest bottle! This area is desperate along with the surrounding counties. We need this Interstate for the jobs that follow and our survival. Its bad when a high school senior knows this but our congressmen don't.
  • by Danny Location: Richmond on Jul 22, 2008 at 07:10 AM
    Here's an idea. To those who live in Richmond, Louisville, and Lexington areas who are so worried about the environment and wasting money on interestates, let's demolish I 75, I 71, I 65, and I 64 and return this land to its natural beauty. No need to waste money on asphalt. It is very easy for people to oppose building a road in an area in which they don't live while sitting cushioned in developed areas with infrastructure and interstate highways. More and more Eastern Kentuckians are becoming college educated and finding there are no jobs in east Kentucky and have to move. This lack of jobs is due to not having an interstate in this region. Build I 66 and improve infrastructure and jobs will come to Eastern Kentucky. Stop the discrimination by people who do not live in eastern Kentucky and who are ingnorant of its rich culture and wonderful people. These people are hard working, caring, and some of the most talented and intelligent people in the world.
  • by Cecil Location: Berea on Jul 15, 2008 at 04:32 PM
    Here's an idea: How about if we just improve some portions of the already built and paid for, basically good Hwy.80 and put signs up saying "I-66" along the length of it... No? Oh...sorry...guess nothing else will do but a brand new multi-billion dollar "porkway", or else all these people in the eastern part of the state can't get to all those high-paying jobs (located somewhere else) that they are not qualified for. Why? Because the so-called leadership decided a new super-duper highway is more important than education/training funds. And the worst of it is that some people have swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker! What could make them so gullible? A LACK OF EDUCATION possibly?!!! "That thar new road's gonna make us all rich by cracky - "Hal" Rogers an' the new giv'ner done sed so..."
  • by N/A Location: KnottCo. on Jul 15, 2008 at 07:46 AM
    If you build it, (I-66)... they will come. I say build it, should have been finished years ago. But, IMO it's just a topic that comes up during election time. I'd say we'll never see it built. Prove me wrong...BUILD IT.
  • by Bill on Jul 15, 2008 at 05:10 AM
    Build it now.
  • by Build It Location: Lexington on Jul 14, 2008 at 09:42 PM
    Build it! Maybe it will keep some of the people off Lexington roads during the holidays. From October-February you can't go anywhere in town.
  • by Dan Location: Stamping Ground, KY on Jul 14, 2008 at 06:40 PM
    There seems to be major disconnect in my mind over all the budget cuts that were going to be needed for the state to functions with some degree of financial integrity. And now to build a brand new interstate highway in areas that many question the need for?
  • by Bob on Jul 14, 2008 at 02:30 PM
    All they have to do is widen the Parkways (the Hal Rogers Parkway is one) already running through southeastern Ky and to the west. Where's all this traffic they're talking about? It's not on either Ky 80, the Rogers Parkway, or west of Somerset. If they really want to help southern Ky then take all those millions of dollars and give all the kids grants to go to college.
  • by NO66 Location: London on Jul 14, 2008 at 08:53 AM
    Why not just use 80?
  • by Rick Location: Letcher County, Ky on Jul 14, 2008 at 08:46 AM
    To all those in Lexington, Richmond, and Louisville that think Eastern Kentucky does't need I66, you say that because all of you already have an interstate. We don't, and we need jobs, so we certainly need I66. We are within 500 miles of 60% of the US Polulation. But you can't get here from there now. This will open up the area to interstate access and additional tourism. Incidentally, if you travel I64 or I40 and want to go across the country, you will admit those two routes are crowded, and a third is needed. Some will come from I40 thus getting people coming through Kentucky that otherwise would have gone through Tennessee, spending their gas, food, and lodging funds in Tennessee instead of Kentucky. As to who can afford to drive on them? I envision within 10 years, most of us will have an electric car (I certainly will), will need no gas, and it will run on coal, something we have plenty of in Kentucky.
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