Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's official: Democrats, big city papers think neglect of rural areas is OK

We aren't quite sure what former State Highway Engineer Sam Beverage was trying to prove when he alleged that the Fletcher administration has steered highway projects to Republican areas and to the districts of friendly legislators.

Beverage has been around long enough and he knows how the game is played. Before coming to Kentucky, Beverage served as the equivalent of our state's Commissioner of Highway and later Secretary of Transportation in his native West Virginia. At one time, Beverage was even a Republican candidate for governor there before bowing out of the race early on.

What's saddest about the whole deal is how the state's mainstream press and the partisan Democrat/liberal bloggers have embraced the way that rural Republican areas were neglected by the Democrat power structure that ruled Frankfort and the rest of the state for three decades.

The simple fact is that yes, areas neglected for years are finally having some attention paid to them. The rural areas in this state, especially those in the southern and eastern parts, suffer from woeful highways. Access has been improved in some areas, thanks to the Appalachian Regional Commission building highway corridors and Louie B. Nunn building the Cumberland and Daniel Boone parkways, but it's been a struggle for many of the smaller, rural GOP counties to get highway access.

So it's no surprise that our state's first Republican governor in three decades would try to reverse the years of neglect. Under Fletcher, many projects that had been shuffled to the back burner in the past have been brought back to life.

Al Cross mentioned a few of them in a column on Sunday, but there are lots more that need to be built.

And it's disingenuous for Democrats to claim that Republican counties are getting all the spoils. One of the longest-running and most hollow promises that Democrat gubernatorial candidates have made for years was that they were going to widen the two-lane portion of the Mountain Parkway to four lanes. You might think that this would have been a priority of Paul Patton, but it wasn't. Patton was more interested in getting another layer of blacktop laid on US 23 in Pike County than in improving the route Pike Countians travel to get to the Bluegrass, and vice-versa.

Yet it is Fletcher who has done more to advance the widening of the Mountain Parkway than any other governor. He fast-tracked a project to expand a segment of the route in Wolfe County, which is overwhelmingly Democrat.

We know that Louisville needs another bridge, and that Northern Kentucky probably will within the next two decades or so. But we think it's a sin and a disgrace that Democrats would rather add another lane to I-75 in Kenton County, or widen the Watterson Expressway, when there are roads in the mountains that need to be replaced for economic development and safety reasons.

And we think it's even worse when the state's largest media and the Democrats agree that neglect of rural Republican areas is a good thing and shouldn't be reversed.

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