What we think: We must fund I-64 ramp repair

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State transportation officials have a plan. We must ensure completion.

You had to be pleased and heartened by the news that the frighteningly short and deadly ramp from KY 55 onto eastbound Interstate 64 was on tap for repair within the next year.

That’s what state transportation engineer Matt Bullock told Shelby County Fiscal Court, and we believe Mr. Bullock would not have been so public with his comments if the schedule were not indeed set in at least asphalt.

Mr. Bullock had been working for months now to find a way to extend those 295 critical feet in which motorists have to make split-second, potentially life-altering decisions about whether to merge and how to merge into oncoming traffic before they run out of pavement.

We have begged, pushed and cajoled for action here, and now a third significant accident has occurred in that spot in less than a year. Two people have died.

Everyone understands that this ramp is, as Magistrate Tony Carriss said, “The most dangerous place in Shelby County.”

But in his comments Mr. Bullock also made it clear that a portion of the burden for this accelerated and expensive project remained with those whose significant influence had helped move it up the ladder of transportation priorities.

He fairly well threw down the political gauntlet to state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) and state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) when he said: “We’re prepared to construct next year, in 2012, assuming the General Assembly will give us the funding.”

Mr. Montell and Mr. Hornback carry our votes to Frankfort, and they know full well the importance of this project. Their efforts have shoved it along and into focus as a priority.

But now it will be their assignment to ensure that the money to pay for it is included in appropriations that pass through the various committees and fiefdoms of our legislators.

We know Mr. Montell and Mr. Hornback are committed to this – as was retired state Sen. Gary Tapp – and understand its urgency, but we also know they are simple cogs in a complex political machine trying to motor through difficult economic waters.

Equally, though, we believe in the ability of Mr. Montell and Mr. Hornback to see this through.

There are no free lunches in the world of politics, they say.

And there are no free roads for any of us.

Now it’s time to pay for both.