U.S. Transportation Secretary warns of gridlock - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U.S. Transportation Secretary stops in Louisville to warn of gridlock

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The U.S. Secretary of Transportation is warning that gridlock in Washington could halt big transportation projects in Kentucky and across the country.

He brought that message to downtown Louisville Tuesday. Secretary Anthony Foxx says the work that went into making the Ohio River Bridges Project possible across state lines is the kind of model Congress needs to get something done.

"Part of what we want to do is highlight the fact that highways, transit, all of it is a partnership between states, local government and the federal government," Foxx said.

Foxx says those partnerships are in jeopardy because by August, the Federal Highway Trust Fund could run dry.

He was joined by Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer for a press conference to speak on the topic. Governor Steve Beshear says uncertainty at the federal level is affecting construction projects in Kentucky.

"One example close to home here in the continuation and completion of the widening of I-65 between Elizabethtown and Bowling Green," Beshear said.

Ky. Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says all federally funded projects in the state would be affected in some way if Congress fails to act, but he says the state is committed to completing the Ohio River Bridges Project. Hancock says money from the trust fund is only one part of the bridges' financing. Much of the money has already been set aside.

"A $302 billion transportation plan over four years will actually grow our investments in transportation and grow innovation in how transportation projects are done," Foxx said.

Those at the press conference are pushing people to contact their senators and representatives about the issue, to get them on board with the Obama administration's spending proposal.

Congressman John Yarmuth says the issue has become partisan.

"We are very far apart, not just far apart, were going in different directions here," Yarmuth said.

While those at the press conference say this should be non-partisan, no Republicans spoke. We received the following statements from Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul's offices on transportation spending.

Robert Steurer, communications director for Sen. McConnell's office, issued the following statement:

"Senator McConnell understands the importance of transportation projects for Kentucky and he looks forward to the Senate addressing the highway trust fund extension once Senator Reid brings the issue to the Senate floor for consideration. In 2012, Senator McConnell helped secure passage of the multi-year Highway Bill which contained significant reforms with respect to streamlining environmental reviews, and gave states maximum flexibility to use their transportation dollars the way they chose. These are reforms that are helping Kentucky address its transportation needs."

Sen. Rand Paul issued the following statement:

"The interstate highway system is of vital importance to our national economy. I have proposed legislation that would create a fund to provide for new construction, repair, and replacement of crumbling bridges and roads. The revenue would come from creating an incentive for U.S. companies to bring their overseas profits back to the United States by reducing the repatriation rate to five percent."

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