Kentucky Transportation Cabinet test drives new method to prioritize road projects
Several Louisville-area projects made the list, but the legislature and the governor have the final say.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has released its list of recommended road projects for 2018-2020 and, for the first time, it has used a data-driven model called SHIFT to compile that list.
SHIFT scores projects based on criteria such as traffic congestion, asset management, cost benefit and safety.
"The recommended highway plan stemmed from a charge from Gov. [Matt] Bevin to deliver a more data-driven, collaborative approach to identifying which projects are going to be prioritized," said Naitore Djigbenou, the cabinet's executive director of public affairs.
In all, the cabinet has $2.6 billion to spend across the state. Among the biggest recommended expenditures is $123 million to widen the Gene Snyder Freeway to six lanes from Taylorsville Road to I-71.
"The projects that made it in the list are projects that really have a significant impact, that are going to reduce traffic congestion, that are going to improve safety, that are going to be important economic drivers," Djigbenou said.
Jackie Shields is pleased the Gene Snyder project is on the list. As Team Leader at the Mortenson Family Dental on Taylorsville Road, she braves the highway almost every day.
"Getting here on time is very important to me, so I have to leave a little earlier to compensate for possible stopped traffic," she said.
Other recommended projects in the Louisville area include widening I-65 from six lanes to eight between the Gene Snyder and Lebanon Junction. There are also several projects designed to improve traffic flow on I-71 and on I-64.
But just because a project makes the list, does not mean it gets done. The final road plan is up to the General Assembly and Bevin.
"We've done our due diligence to provide them with the data-driven prioritized list to help facilitate that decision-making process," Djigbenou said.
They are decisions that, despite the numbers, still come down politics. Shields just hopes the Gene Snyder project survives the process.
"We live by appointments," she said. "So, being on time is extremely important, because we don't want to make that next patient wait as well."
The entire list of recommended road projects is available here.
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