At Risk

Tuesday I went as far west as I could go and still be in Kentucky.

I was invited to come by one of our members, Kenney Etherton, of Fulton Transit. Kenney asked me to speak to the Fulton Rotary and I happily accepted.

It was a great day to drive - and it was a nice drive. The WK is in good shape and I got to see some of the work being done on I-69.

When I got to Fulton I did what I always do in a new place - I drove around to see what Fulton is all about.

The city of Fulton is relatively small with a population of 2,700. The city of Hickman, the County seat of Fulton County, has a population of 2,600, and Fulton County has a total population of more than 7,700.

The access the transportation network provides keeps Fulton going. It is a multi-modal county with a successful riverport, a General Aviation airport, extensive rail service, bus and rail transit services, and highway access.

They have it all - and they depend on it all.

The Fulton Transit service provides more than 110,000 trips per year to area residents. The riverport puts through over 1 million tons each year between the 5 tenants of the harbor. The CN railroad connects Fulton with the Port of New Orleans and the upper Midwestern United States. I69, once completed, will connect West Kentucky to Texas and Canada.

You might think that this small county and these small cities have all the transportation access they need - so why did I go there and talk about transportation funding?

Because Fulton's entire transportation network has to be maintained and improved to continue to operate.  And right now, we don't have all the revenue we need as a state to make all the infrastructure investments we need - in Fulton County and in every other county in Kentucky.

So what happens to Fulton - and every other city and county - when we don't have enough money to invest in the roads, the airports, the port, the transit system, and the rail lines?

Someone's mother doesn't get to the doctor because there's no transit service. Some company moves to another state because they no longer have good road access that provides a safe, dependable way for their employees to get to work and an efficient way for their goods to get to market. 

We must find a way to generate all the revenue we need for our transportation network. It ties all of us together - and ties Kentucky to the rest of the world. Without the access our roads, bridges, airports, rail lines, and transit service provide, we risk losing everything we've all worked so hard for.

And - as the mother of two small children who are going to need access and opportunity - that's a risk I'm not willing to take.