I love my job. I work with some amazing members who build and operate Kentucky's transportation infrastructure and employ more than 40,000 people. I get to travel around the state and talk to people about all the awesome things transportation does for local communities like improve their economic development opportunities by providing better access to their area.
This morning, I'm speaking to Kentucky's Magistrates and Commissioners during their Annual Meeting. KMCA members are great. They, along with Kentucky's County Judge Executives, are on the front lines when it comes to issues throughout Kentucky. I love to speak to this group - and others like them about transportation and how it impacts them.
But lately, when I speak, my topic has gotten a little depressing. There are only so many times that I can talk about how important transportation is - and then tell people that we don't have enough money to maintain what we have, much less build what we'll need for the future. And right now - that is true on both the state and the federal level.
It bothers me that I can't stand up in front of people and tell them that everything is going to be fine.
It bothers me that I can't assure our members that all of our issues will be fully addressed - that we will have the revenues we need today to maintain our entire infrastructure. That means, the revenue to buy the buses we need today, the revenue we need today to maintain our roads and bridges, the revenue to improve our airports - both the commercial airports and the general aviation airports - so they can move as many people and as much freight as they need to today, the revenue we need today to improve our riverports so they can improve the services they provide to their current customers, the revenue we need so we can maintain our rail lines so they can safely move the freight they have to today.
I can't tell our members - or the public - that our infrastructure will ever get better than it is today. Not for lack of concern or care or effort - but due to lack of funding.
But what bothers me more is, that as the mother of two little people that I hope will have even more opportunities than I have had in this great state, I can't tell people that our transportation funding issues will be solved for the future. I can't tell anyone that our airports, riverports, rail lines, transit services, highways, local roads, or bridges will be operating in the future at the same level they are today. I can't guarantee that the most rural parts of Kentucky will be as connected to the urban areas as they are today - that there will be the same or better transit service or that there will be the same or better rail service.
If we don't find a way to reform and modernize how we fund our entire infrastructure we risk losing all of it. Most likely - and hopefully - that won't occur in one fell swoop. Hopefully we won't lose a bridge. Hopefully a general aviation airport won't close. Hopefully we won't lose our rail connectivity. Hopefully our ports won't close due to limited capacity. Hopefully everyone in our state will still have access to transit.
What I do know is that KBT won't stop trying. We will keep advocating for the future of our kids and the future of our counties and our state. And we'll keep educating local elected officials, legislators, Chambers of Commerce, other industry associations, and anyone else who'll listen about the importance of our transportation network.
Without the connectivity the transportation provides - there is no movement forward. There is only a regression back to where we were years ago.
I for one don't want my kids or your kids to have a future that looks back - because they aren't going that way.
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