Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao used multiple stops during a trip to Kentucky Aug. 23-24 to highlight a slew of grants worth nearly $80 million that have been issued to support airports, highways, inland waterways, and the purchase of electric buses in that state.
First, Chao highlighted a more than $67 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA grant to make improvements to I-71 and I-75 south of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. That grant – originally awarded on June 8 – will fund a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project aimed at converting two existing conventional diamond interchanges to double crossover diamond interchanges, while eliminating two existing at-grade railroad crossings and complete a new single-point urban interchange at US 25, and provide a railroad bridge overpass to provide a fully grade-separated crossing.
A second, separate grant of more than $7.1 million via the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program or AIP will be used to fund three projects at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport – an airport considered one of the 50 busiest and fastest growing aerodromes in the country. Those projects include rehabilitation of the apron at Concourse A, constructing a de-icing pad and facilities, and improving the baggage handling system at Concourse A, Chao said.
During her visit, Chao also noted that the Maritime Administration will establish a new gateway office in Paducah; becoming the 10th such gateway office in the nation that are designed to provide assistance to public ports and state and local officials in addressing transportation congestion relief and improving freight and passenger movement.
Additionally, MARAD is also awarding a $251,927 marine highway grant for the Paducah-McCracken Riverport Container-on-Barge Service to help maintain the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport as a “multi-modal center” with waterway, rail, and road connections.
“Paducah has always been a natural hub for regional inland waterway traffic because of its special location, situated between the Tennessee, Ohio, Cumberland and Mississippi Rivers,” Chao noted in her prepared remarks. “It’s been Kentucky’s crown jewel in terms of maritime importance [and] is a major site for dry dock facilities, as well. As a result, Paducah has become the headquarters to important barge line companies, and home to more U.S.-flag inland waterway operators than anywhere else in the nation.”
Finally, during a luncheon at the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Chao announced a $2.3 million grant to the Transit Authority of Lexington or LexTran to purchase all-electric buses; a slice of more than $84 million national funding announced back in late April as part of the Federal Transit Administration’s Low- or No-Emission grant program.
She said LexTran plans to partner with a non-profit research organization for this project – one of 52 projects getting “Low-No” grant funding in 41 states – to assess the operational benefits of all-electric buses to help inform the transit industry about their capabilities.