Tuesday August 16, 2022
News Sections

Declaration waives certain commercial motor carrier regulations for operators providing relief to affected areas

In anticipation of Hurricane Florence and its potential to cause damage to the southeastern United States, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas has waived certain regulations on commercial motor carriers involved in the relief effort.

Secretary Thomas issued the emergency declaration that provides temporary regulatory relief for crews heading to the affected areas to deliver goods, restore utilities and remove debris.

“Lifting these restrictions allows crews to assist with the relief effort as quickly as possible,” Secretary Thomas

The order exempts a driver’s hours of service limitation and weigh station stoppage, suspends registration requirements and waives permit fees for overweight/over-dimensional vehicles. All other safety requirements will remain in effect for drivers.

The declaration expires on Oct. 11.

Additional information is available here http://transportation.ky.gov/

Thoughts of snow and ice may be far from the minds of Kentuckians with warm temperatures hovering over the state, but the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is sounding the battle cry “Winter is Coming” to alert motorists to prepare for the impending wintery conditions. The KYTC stands ready to tackle the elements with sharpened plow blades, stocked salt supplies and trained maintenance crews.

“Snow and ice season is upon us,” said KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas. “Transportation crews are prepared to serve the public over the next few months by responding to winter weather events that may affect travel. We encourage Kentucky motorists to be equally prepared.”

With a strategy reminiscent of combat, nearly 2,000 professional “snowfighters” and support staff have been briefed and trained on best practices for snow and ice removal in an effort to keep motorists moving on Kentucky roadways. A statewide brigade of trucks and plows stands ready, and a strike force of eight plows is positioned for district deployment from the state capital during major winter weather events.

“Our mission for snow and ice removal is to keep traffic moving safely with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors and priority routes,” said Patty Dunaway, state highway engineer. “Our teams will strive to provide a uniform response statewide to achieve safe driving conditions on roadways while considering environmental and economic factors to steward taxpayer money responsibly.”

During routine snow and ice occurrences, KYTC will operate using snow and ice priority route maps. In 2016, the Cabinet updated snow and ice removal policies for operational efficiency and cost effectiveness. While many aspects of the policy remain the same, treatment turnaround time adjustments were made to allow crews to focus on removing snow and ice from interstates and other priority routes. These adjustments improve statewide mobility, help alleviate potential safety challenges and curb increased costs caused by weather conditions that lead to inoperable equipment or ineffective treatment.

Launched last winter, the Cabinet’s snow and ice information website, snowky.ky.gov, provides details about priority routes, helpful winter weather tips, fact sheets and videos on salt application and snow removal.

For severe winter storm events, the Cabinet has established a snow emergency plan similar to state emergency plans for other major weather events (e.g., floods, hurricanes and earthquakes). The snow emergency plan will allow available resources within each county to be diverted as needed to ensure optimal mobility for the highest priority routes that lead to critical locations, such as medical facilities. Emergency priority route maps for severe snow and ice events are accessible at goky.ky.gov.

Featured this season

Goky.ky.gov communicates additional information to Kentucky travelers, detailing KYTC’s snow and ice removal response, including treatment and plowing of roadways. Visitors to GoKY can access the latest information about what’s happening in their local counties.

Thousands of men and women serve on the frontlines and behind the scenes of the Cabinet’s snow and ice removal efforts. Throughout the season, the KYTC will be highlighting select district snowfighters on Facebook and Twitter and sharing their sage advice on how to stay safe on the roads.

A new strike force of retrofit snow plows housed in Frankfort was available last year for statewide deployment as needed during winter weather emergencies. Reserved for high priority routes to ensure interstates remain open, the strike force is again in place this winter.

Inventory of materials and equipment

Winter-ready, the Cabinet is stocked to capacity with a supply of 481,000 tons of salt, 1 million gallons of salt brine for anti-icing and 1 million gallons of calcium chloride, an additive to salt for deicing.

The Cabinet is equipped with approximately 980 deployable trucks and plows among the 125 snow and ice maintenance locations. Another 431 contracted trucks are available to assist in snow and ice operations.

Maintenance crews have prepared rosters and schedules, calibrated salting equipment, prepped plows, reviewed plowing strategies and completed safety training.

The Cabinet will continue to manage equipment, salt supplies and other snow-fighting materials efficiently. Using reverse auction procurement on new salt contracts for this winter, KYTC has reduced the cost of salt purchases by as much as $20 per ton in districts throughout the state. Districts will continue to look for opportunities to shift resources for sharing with other districts as needed, focusing on the statewide team goal of serving all Kentucky citizens.

Public preparation

KYTC encourages motorists to prepare for winter and remain safe by following these tips:

  • Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level.
  • Travel only as necessary during major snow events. It’s better to be stuck at home than to be stuck on the road.
  • Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment.
  • Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder.
  • Allow time for a slower commute.
  • Winterize vehicles.
  • Stock vehicles with blankets, flash light and an emergency supply kit.
  • Know before you go. Visit goky.ky.gov and download the free Waze app to check traffic conditions before you travel.
  • Eliminate distractions (e.g. using phone and eating) while driving.
  • Cooperate with the expectations of the Quick Clearance law, which requires drivers to move vehicles to the shoulder in the event of a non-injury crash.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Secretary Greg Thomas has approved the issuance of $929,004 in grants to improve multimodal freight transportation through the KY Rail Crossing Improvement (KRCI) Program. Administered through the KYTC Division of Planning, these funds are used to maintain and improve local and regional railroads.

“Safety continues to be the first priority of the Cabinet and this extends to all modes of transportation. We are pleased to partner with our rail companies to improve safety for the public and to support the movement of freight across Kentucky,” said Thomas.

Three applicants submitted requests for railroad improvement funds. Awards were issued to Paducah and Louisville Railroad (PAL), RJ Corman Railroad Group (RJC) and Port of Louisville Railroad (LOR) to fund improvements for 16 projects affecting 14 crossings. Awardees will be reimbursed 50% of the total project cost through the program for the $1.9 million in rail improvements.

“Railways are a major logistical resource for industry in our part of the state, and a major component of our transportation system,” said Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations & Revenue. “I commend the Transportation Cabinet, as well as Paducah & Louisville Railway, for working together to fund these critical safety and design improvements. These projects will have an overwhelmingly positive impact when it comes to relieving traffic congestion at our railroad crossings, by improving traffic flow and increasing the safety of our citizens. Public-private partnerships like these are the way of the future, and it is encouraging to see the public and private sector working together on innovative solutions to improve our infrastructure.”

When selecting KRCI  awardees, the cabinet examined factors such as crash history, vehicle, train and truck traffic, physical condition, project cost, and the federal railroad crossing score. Some of the crossings had average daily traffic counts as high as 13,000 vehicles. Safety improvements include the installation of signals, lights, barriers, gates, bells or other equipment. The majority of projects will have rehabilitate crossing surfaces including pavement, ballast, ties and rail replacements.

For a list of railroad crossing projects, click here.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) today released a data-driven list of statewide transportation projects that will help guide development of the next Highway Plan.

Over the past several months, KYTC evaluated and scored more than 1,100 projects across the state using the new Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow (SHIFT). The formula is an objective approach that uses data on safety, congestion, asset management, economic growth and cost-benefit ratios.

At the direction of Gov. Matt Bevin, state transportation leaders created SHIFT as a data-driven tool to help prioritize spending of limited transportation dollars, estimated at $2.6 billion over the next six year cycle (FY 2018-FY 2024) based on current funding sources. Kentucky’s current six-year Highway Plan has nearly $6 billion in unfunded transportation projects.

“With limited dollars to spend, we must make wise investments that improve safety for our citizens, increase mobility and drive the state’s economy,” said Transportation Sec. Greg Thomas. “SHIFT is a tool to help us propose a prioritized and balanced Highway Plan to present to the governor and lawmakers.”

The first step in narrowing funding priorities was to identify and rank projects with statewide significance – interstates and highways that move people and goods from one Kentucky region to another and to other states.

The statewide list identifies 70 projects, which are part of the National Highway System, as projects of statewide significance. These projects will be considered for funding through a statewide funding pool, which will be designated in the recommended Highway Plan later this year.

The next step in the SHIFT process will focus on ranking regional projects, transportation improvements within geographical sections of the Commonwealth.

Over the coming weeks, local transportation leaders (Area Development Districts, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and KYTC District Offices) across the state will meet to decide which projects to prioritize for consideration for Highway Plan funding. The groups will consider more than 1,000 projects that have been scored using SHIFT including those National Highway System projects that were determined not to have statewide significance.

KYTC has grouped the state’s 12 highway districts into four geographic regions – North, South, East and West – consisting of three districts each. Leaders in each region will be asked to prioritize spending on projects in their areas.

Greater Commitment to Repair Existing Roads, Bridges

Thomas also announced yesterday that the recommended Highway Plan will set aside an additional $205 million annually in the next highway plan to repair or replace aging bridges and roads across the Commonwealth.

Kentucky has more than 1,100 structurally deficient bridges and more than 3,700 miles of roads that need significant repairs. The backlog of pavement improvements alone totals approximately $1 billion and is growing at a rate of 500 miles of roadway each year.

“We must take better care of the roads and bridges that motorists depend on today,” Thomas said. “The backlog of deteriorating infrastructure is significant and we must invest more resources to preserve our existing system.”

Later this fall, the statewide and regional lists developed under SHIFT scoring will guide development of the Highway Plan, a six-year outline for transportation spending. The plan will also include funding for priorities outside of SHIFT, including projects already underway and federally designated programs such as the Transportation Alternative Program and the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program funded through the Office of Local Programs.

For more information about SHIFT and to view the statewide projects list, visit http://transportation.ky.gov/SHIFT.

Beginning this fall, students enrolled in an automotive or diesel technology program with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) can apply to gain paid, hands-on experience with local Department of Highways maintenance garages through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) new Transportation Mechanic Apprenticeship Program (TMAP).

As the state’s first automotive technician apprenticeship program registered with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Division of Apprenticeship (and one of only two such programs in the Commonwealth listed with the Labor Cabinet), TMAP presents a unique opportunity for high school graduates entering the workforce and for individuals seeking a new career pathway.

“Partnering with KCTCS to provide an automotive technician apprenticeship program benefits Kentucky’s workforce and assists our KYTC mission,” said Transportation Sec. Greg Thomas. “TMAP apprentices will help maintain and repair the equipment our road crews use to provide a safe and reliable transportation system for all who travel Kentucky’s roadways. TMAP also offers opportunities for Kentuckians to improve their quality of life through practical training as they work toward their associate’s degree.”

Whether apprentices continue their career with KYTC after graduating the program or decide to pursue an automotive position elsewhere, they will have a nationally recognized certification to present to future employers.

The Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2024 (for years 2014-2024) indicates an 11.5 percent increase in demand for automotive service technicians and mechanics and a 22.5 percent increase for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists. Currently, KYTC has a demand for individuals across Kentucky who possess the skills specific to those trades.

“Under the Labor Cabinet’s ‘Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.’ initiative, our goal is to increase apprenticeship programs and expand the variety of trades represented to meet workforce goals throughout the state,” said Labor Sec. Derrick Ramsey. “The demand for highly skilled laborers isn’t exclusive to the private sector; public agencies need employees with specialized skill sets as well.”

To be considered for KYTC’s TMAP, an individual must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid driver’s license, have an acceptable criminal record report and be enrolled in an automotive or diesel technology program through KCTCS. Interested TMAP candidates can take advantage of the close proximity of hands-on training and educational opportunities.

“The statewide availability of KYTC’s apprenticeship program locations offers Kentuckians seeking a career the convenience of not having to commute long distances,” said Ramona Brock, KYTC apprenticeship program coordinator. “Transportation maintenance garages are located in all 12 districts, and KCTCS provides an automotive program in every district and a diesel technology program in nine of the 12 districts.”

Apprentices participating in TMAP will gain 2,000 hours of combined coursework and hands-on experience over a period of two years and will be subject to a four-month probationary period. Work ethic and willingness to learn and take direction are necessary for satisfactory completion of the program. TMAP apprentices will receive increasing pay opportunities, starting at $9.50 per hour and potentially advancing to $14.42 upon graduating. After satisfactorily completing TMAP, graduates will receive a nationally recognized credential in addition to their two-year college degree.

KYTC’s Transportation Mechanic Apprenticeship Program meets national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Division of Apprenticeship.

TMAP candidates can access additional information about the program and download an application at transportation.ky.gov/Education or can email Ramona.Brock@ky.gov. The deadline to submit a TMAP application is Sept. 15.

Photo: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Governor Matt Bevin has approved $24.9 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) and Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds for communities across the Commonwealth. TAP and CMAQ programs are federally funded reimbursement programs administered through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Local Programs.

“By updating this year’s priority ranking criteria, we ensured federal dollars will be spent on the greatest community needs,” said Gov. Bevin. “These funds allow investments to be made in local infrastructure that increases connectivity and serves diverse populations, such as the non-driving and disabled communities.”

This year, TAP funding for 34 projects was awarded to 28 counties while 10 CMAQ projects in various municipalities were selected. Furthermore, four ongoing TAP projects received additional funding. Projects in this year’s cycle range from new sidewalks and walk/bike paths to the purchase of new hybrid electric diesel buses that will replace traditional diesel buses.

“These funds support many Cabinet priorities such as improved safety, increased access and more efficient modes of transportation,” said Sec. Greg Thomas. “We’re pleased so many counties across the state will be able to make needed improvements to enhance the quality of life for Kentuckians.”

TAP assists communities in funding transportation improvements, such as safe bicycle and pedestrian pathways and/or facilities, safe routes to schools, scenic turnouts and overlooks and other investments. Projects may be a mix of elements and accessible to the general public or targeted to a broad segment of the general public.

Funding for TAP is authorized as a set-aside of the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funding program under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which authorizes federal transportation funding from Fiscal Year 2016-2020.

Both TAP and CMAQ enable local governments to recoup as much as 80 percent of the cost of a project.

CMAQ is a transportation improvement program focused on funding innovative transportation projects or programs that will reduce congestion and improve air quality. Kentucky receives CMAQ funds each year which can only be spent in areas designated as non-attainment or maintenance for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

CMAQ funds are available to state and local government agencies as well as private entities through public-private partnerships. Nonprofit organizations may also apply in partnership with a state or local government agency.

KYTC solicits applications and makes awards annually for these CMAQ/TAP funds. The 2016 application cycle ended on Sept. 30, 2016.

For a list of CMAQ and TAP awards by county, click here.
For more information, please visit http://transportation.ky.gov/Local-Programs.

The Kentucky Historical Society will crisscross the Commonwealth to dedicate five historical markers in May.

Here is the schedule:

May 4, Walton CCC Camp Bean Ridge, 1 p.m., 30 School Road, Walton

Civilian Conservation Corps company 3541 opened in 1935 in Walton. The 200 men stationed there specialized in soil conservation. They trained local farmers in contour farming, crop rotation and strip cropping; planted trees; built fences; and developed farm management plans. They also provided relief during the 1937 Ohio River flood.

May 8, Webster County Courthouse, 10:30 a.m., CDT, Webster County Courthouse, Dixon

The courthouse dates to 1941 and was a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression. Architect H. Lawrence Casner, from Webster County, designed the building, as well as the Caldwell County courthouse and the main vault at Fort Knox. His wife, Arminta Bowmer Casner, made the sculptured faces on the building’s exterior walls.

May 10, First Louisville Slugger Bat, 10 a.m., 118 S. First St., Louisville

This address is the site of the original J.F. Hillerich carpentry shop. The Louisville Slugger baseball bat has its roots with Louisville Eclipse player Pete Browning’s broken baseball bat. J.F. Hillerich’s son was at the game in 1884 when it broke and offered to make a new bat for Browning. Browning got three hits with the new bat, creating a demand from his teammates for their own bats. The company trademarked “Louisville Slugger” in 1884.

May 20, Ted Poston “Dean of Black Journalists,” 3:30 p.m. CDT, 9th and Main Streets, Hopkinsville

Hopkinsville native Theodore Roosevelt Poston began his journalism career in 1936 as a freelancer for the New York Post. He went on to spend most of his career there, covering major civil rights stories of his era. Among his many awards was a Pulitzer Prize (1949).

May 28, Bon Jellico, 2 p.m., Highway 92W and Bon Hollow Road, Whitley County

The Bon Jellico coal mine operated from 1912 to 1937 and employed 350 workers. It annually produced nearly 100,000 tons of Blue Gem coal. The town included 75 houses, a three-room school/church and a company store. Around 1,500 people lived in Bon Jellico over the 25-year period the mine operated. It closed primarily because the coal supply was depleted.

More than 2,400 historical markers statewide tell Kentucky’s history. More information about the marker application process and a database of markers and their text is available at history.ky.gov/markers. Also available on the site is the Explore Kentucky History app, a source of supplemental information about marker topics and virtual tours of markers by theme. KHS administers the Kentucky Historical Marker Program in cooperation with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.