Transportation Cabinet asks what Boyle County needs

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Boyle County magistrates got the opportunity Tuesday to tell officials with the state Transportation Cabinet anything on their mind about local roads, bridges and infrastructure.

Rural and Municipal Air Commissioner Gray Tomblyn and District 7 Chief Engineer Kelly Baker attended the Boyle County Fiscal Court’s regular meeting as part of a statewide “listening tour.”

“We’re here to see what needs you have and see how we might be able to work with you,” Tomblyn said. “Who knows better than local folks? You cross your bridges every day; you drive your roads every day. So who knows better than you what’s needed?”

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Here’s what magistrates focused on:

• Magistrates John Caywood and Tom Ellis promoted the idea of an increase in the gas tax to help fund repairs to roads and bridges.

“Those of us who don’t want tax increases have to realize that as our roads and bridges deteriorate, our vehicles will be subject to new repairs that might otherwise be avoided,” Ellis said.

Magistrate Jason Cullen noted that during a previous push to increase the gas tax, many people mistakenly believed a “10-cent” increase on wholesale gasoline prices meant they would pay 10 cents more at the pump, when in reality it might have resulted in a 1- or 2-cent increase. Everyone agreed even a couple cents per gallon increase would make a huge difference in how well the state’s infrastructure could be maintained.

“I get lots of phone calls about our roads and how bad they are,” Cullen said. “… I’m not for taxes but this is one of those things I can get firmly behind to help all of us.”

Magistrate Phil Sammons said the gas tax “is the best tax we have” and he doesn’t understand why the state has allowed it to languish.

• Magistrates discussed the fact the Chaplin River Bridge in Perryville is already funded to be replaced in the state’s current two-year budget. And Cullen noted a need to replace “a really bad bridge” on Buster Pike.

“It is hanging on, I think, by duct tape and tuna fish cans,” he said. “It’s really bad and I get calls about it all the time, so if you guys can take a look at it.”

Baker said the Buster Pike bridge is also planned to be replaced, it just wasn’t funded this two-year cycle.

“When the next plan comes out, hopefully there will be approved funds for it,” he said.

• Magistrates said Main Street in Danville is badly in need of repairs and/or resurfacing.

“Did you travel Main Street coming into town?” Magistrate Jamey Gay asked Tomblyn. “And if not — travel it on your way out.”

“I think I did, and it was rough, to say the least,” Tomblyn responded. “If not, then I’d hate to see what Main Street is if I didn’t drive the right road.”

Baker said Danville’s Main Street is “going to get resurfaced this year, one way or the other.”

“We’ve got our traffic consultant right now doing counts and simulations,” he said. “We plan on once we get that information bringing it down and sharing that with everybody, just to look at the advantages or if there are disadvantages to changing the striping. But one way or the other, we are going to resurface it.”

Cullen noted the last time the state looked at Danville’s Main Street, it created quite a controversy over a proposal to create a center turning lane and alter parking, creating one main lane of traffic going either direction.

“As much public input or input from us (as possible) I think would help solve the problem that we had several years ago,” Cullen said. “… I’d rather have a seat at the table and have some input than no seat at the table. I understand it’s a state road and you guys can do what you want, but we’d love some input with our town here.”

“That’s our plan,” Baker said.