State and federal leaders discuss possible projects to improve eastern Kentucky infrastructure

Painting the road with roller brush

State and federal leaders met in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to discuss possible expansion of the Mountain Parkway and widening of the Hal Rogers Parkway.

After recently calling for an extension of the Mountain Parkway into West Virginia, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo and other members of Democratic House Leadership met with Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers as well as U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in Washington, D.C. about the potential project.

According to a release from Stumbo’s office, the House Speaker has asked the state’s Transportation Cabinet to look into how the expansion from Stumbo’s home town of Prestonsburg to Beckley, W.Va. could be accomplished. Stumbo has also suggested re-purposing up to $1 billion of federal abandoned mine land funds to go toward the projects.

“Rather than sitting idle, these funds can be used to improve the coal region’s infrastructure and economic future,” Stumbo said in a statement.

Also discussed in the Washington meeting was the possibility of expanding the project’s scope to include the Hal Rogers Parkway and tying it together under the I-66 umbrella, an idea supported by House leadership.

In a statement about the meeting, Stumbo thanked the congressional leaders for meeting with the Democratic leadership team including House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards and Majority Whip Johnny Bell and added that the federal lawmakers were receptive to the idea and “support is growing in our nation’s capitol.”

“They realize, as we do, that projects like these can open up the region in a way no other can.  Eastern Kentucky needs a major interstate route to the east and south, and these plans are the best way to do that,” Stumbo said.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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