FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited Letcher County today to announce $1.2 million in funding for two projects promoting good health and traffic safety – construction of new sidewalks to area schools and replacement of an outdated bridge on KY 805.
“My administration continues to place an emphasis on healthy lifestyles, community preservation and tourism improvements,” Governor Fletcher said. “This funding provides us with an opportunity to improve many of Letcher County’s resources and connect our overall transportation system through unique enhancement projects. These are investments that will improve the quality of life for local residents for generations to come.”
The Governor, accompanied by Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, announced $192,000 in Safe Routes to School funding for the Letcher County Board of Education. The investment will provide new sidewalks to West Whitesburg Elementary and Middle schools. The new sidewalks also will form links to a nearby soccer field, tennis courts, swimming pool and community theater.
The sidewalk project will correspond with an earlier initiative to build a pedestrian bridge across the North Fork of the Kentucky River. The combined projects will connect the schools and recreational facilities to downtown Whitesburg, including local restaurants, a library and shopping.
The Safe Routes program is administered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and is designed to make bicycling and walking to school a safer, more appealing and healthier transportation alternative. Funding is provided for projects and activities that improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution near schools. Last year, Governor Fletcher’s administration awarded more than $1.7 million in Safe Routes funding, impacting 32 schools in Kentucky. To date in 2007, $1 million has been approved, impacting 34 schools.
“This project is not only going to encourage alternate forms of transportation, but it will impact our way of life by improving safety, air quality, convenience and efficiency,” said Sen. Johnny Ray Turner (D-Drift).
“We appreciate the Governor’s and Secretary Nighbert’s support of this project for Letcher County,” Representative Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville) said. “While this project will give so much to our student population it will also tie the resources of the entire community together.”
Highway safety in Letcher County will be greatly improved with the replacement of the Millstone-Democrat Bridge over the North Fork of the Kentucky River on KY 805. Governor Fletcher announced a $1,008,747 investment that will provide a new concrete bridge structure and approaches, a configuration that will enhance safety and ease mobility.