Widening, upgrades needed on Ky.’s I-71

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By Jeff Moore

While there is a debate nationwide on the need for upgrading our highways and bridges, we know we have problems that need to be addressed on this region’s interstate highway.

Those of us who drive Interstate 71 frequently know the issues. It’s too busy and needs to be six lanes; and those  need to be in much better condition than they are today.

We got a taste of the issues during the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. While I-71 shouldn’t bear all the responsibility for the issues, it did contribute. Speedway owner Bruton Smith has made it clear he believes the highway needs attention, and fast.

That’s also the case for elected leaders in all the communities along the I-71 corridor in Kentucky.

Carroll County Judge Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson recently worked with officials from Louisville to Boone County to get agreement on the importance of giving I-71 attention from Frankort.

Tomlinson put together a letter seeking state action on I-71 and managed officials across political lines to get all of the localities along the I-71 corridor to sign on. He deserves our thanks for taking on this project and our praise for pulling a region together to address this pressing issue.

Those who put their names to the letter include Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher, Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele, Henry County Judge-Executive John Brent Logan, Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens, Tomlinson, Owen County Judge-Executive Carolyn Keith, Gallatin County Judge-Executive Ken McFarland and Boone County Judge-Executive Gary W. Moore.

“We write this letter today as a region of Kentucky to ask once again for your support in widening and upgrading Interstate 71 from Jefferson County to Boone County,” the letter to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock reads.

“After the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway, it was once again a reflection of the poor conditions of the interstate that made headlines across the Commonwealth. Although we don’t believe that the conditions were entirely to blame for the log jam that was experienced on the interstate, we all realize how important the safety of the I-71 corridor is to all our communities as well as for economic development,” the officials agree in Tomlinson’s letter.

These communities came together in 2003 asking for widening and upgrading to I-71 corridor. And today they are again seeking it’s inclusion in the state’s six-year road plan.

“This upgrade would further enhance the billions of dollars already invested in the region as well as the thousands of jobs that currently exist while allowing for the possible creation of even more jobs and investments,” the officials agree.

The need is clear. All you have to do is drive on I-71. It is an important link for commerce and business. Just look at the number of big rigs on the road. Tomlinson pointed out in his letter that 12 percent of the traffic on the Carroll County section of  I-71 is semi trucks.

Sometimes, it appears higher than that when you’re traveling to either Louisville or Cincinnati.

There is no debate, only agreement, that I-71 requires widening and upgrades. State officials must now offer their support and place this much-needed road work in the next six-year plan.

Jeff Moore is publisher of The News-Democrat and The Trimble Banner and resides in Carrollton, Ky.