I've been travelling around the state quite a bit this summer and I've heard lots of stories. Some stories are heartwarming - like when the director of an assisted living facility commented on how much she and the residents in the facility she manages appreciate public transit. Her local transit agency keeps the residents of her facility active and connected to the community by providing a way for them to get to church, shopping, or to get simple things like a hair cut.
While I hear lots of good stories like that one, lately I've also been hearing other stories that aren't quite so positive.
Summer is peak construction season, but people aren't telling me how busy they are. Instead, I've been hearing about lay-offs, reduced hours of work, and how afraid our members are that things won't get any better any time soon.
Those stories aren't nearly as heartwarming. And it becomes more troubling when you remember that there are people and families who depend on those construction and engineering jobs. And without those jobs, they can't pay the mortgage, the car payment, or buy the groceries they need.
And the sad thing is - right now I don't have a lot of positive news to give them.
I have told them that, according to the KYTC reports, there are more funds available in the road fund in this current fiscal year than previously estimated. However, there still isn't enough money to address all of the deferred maintenance needs or the new construction needs we have in the state.
I've also told them that there isn't enough money to address the deferred maintenance needs at our General Aviation Airports; that we still will need $10 million per year just to continue the transit services we have in the state; and that there isn't enough money to address the needed improvements at our public riverports and at our rail crossings.
And while that message is hard to hear for the 40,000 people employed in Kentucky in the transportation industry - we aren't the only people impacted.
For every improvement needed on our transportation network there is a person, family, or industry that depends on that improvement. Whether it is a major improvement on a highway so the freight from the many automotive manufacturers can move efficiently and reliably or it is an improvement to a rural road traveled by farmers who are taking their grain to market, a bridge replacement so a loaded school bus can cross safely, a new transit bus that provides access for employees to get to a new distribution center, or an improvement at a General Aviation Airport so we can train the airline pilots of tomorrow - every improvement has an impact on a community or an industry.
That's why KBT, and several other organizations like the Kentucky Farm Bureau, the Home Builders Association of Kentucky, the State Chamber, the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners, the Kentucky County Judges Association, the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association, the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, and many others have come together to form the Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition or KIC.
The goal of this coalition is to educate the public about the important role of Kentucky's transportation infrastructure and to encourage the Legislature to modernize how we fund our infrastructure.
We cannot build the economy of tomorrow on yesterday's infrastructure - and the only way we can build and maintain that infrastructure is with more funding. KIC partners are working together to educate the public about the needs and to advocate for change so we can continue to move Kentucky forward.