Gov. Beshear urges President to help with bridges; save and create jobs in KY

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear

(FOX19) - Governor Steve Beshear told President Barack Obama Thursday that Kentucky's economic lifeblood depends on safe and adequate transportation infrastructure, as well as reasonable regulation of coal production.

The Governor and President met at the Northern Kentucky airport (CVG) shortly before the President's speech near the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati. Gov. Beshear was also scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon with the President's Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, to reiterate those same concerns.

The Governor asked the President to work with Congress to immediately authorize federal emergency funds to repair the Sherman Minton Bridge, which carries Interstate 64 between Louisville and southern Indiana and has been closed since Sept. 9 following the discovery of a crack in a load-bearing element.

"The immediate repair of the Sherman Minton Bridge is one of my top priorities, and should be a priority in Washington, too," said Gov. Beshear. "I called on the President to expedite funding for repairs to keep our families working, and reminded him that deteriorating infrastructure is just one more example of what happens when Washington keeps playing partisan games and ignores the real needs of citizens. We cannot afford to keep delaying repairs that stymie economic growth."

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Beshear will host U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez on a tour of the Sherman Minton Bridge.

Gov. Beshear noted that Kentucky has major transportation infrastructure needs in addition to the repair of the Sherman Minton Bridge. The Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio and northern Kentucky is rated "functionally obsolete" and carries more vehicles than it was designed to bear.

In Louisville, the Ohio River Bridges Project, which includes plans for two new bridges and reconstruction of the Kennedy Interchange, is badly needed to reduce traffic congestion and improve cross-river mobility between Kentucky and Indiana.

The Governor also reminded the President that the EPA's continued and unexplained shifting of regulations regarding coal mining jeopardizes thousands of Kentucky jobs and causes detrimental ripple effects in other state job sectors – especially manufacturing.

"Coal is not only a vital national resource, but coal mining also supports thousands of Kentucky families," said Gov. Beshear. "These arbitrary changes in EPA guidelines cause unnecessary and costly delays in permitting, which compromise jobs and investments. It's time for the EPA to end these unpredictable policy swings and work with us on a reasonable policy that protects our families."