The Spin Doctor is sure a lot of local politicians would like to get their hands on the magic wand state Sen. Jerry Rhoads used in order to get College Drive on the state’s six-year road plan.
The project to widen the road leading to Madisonville Community College wasn’t on any priority lists and had no local support, but when the state budget was finalized during the 2008 legislative session — abracadabra — Kentucky 3052 was on the plan.
Local officials recognized that 3052 was College Drive. However, being on the list is one thing, getting funded is another. They were surprised when it received initial funding earlier this year.
That it was listed as Kentucky 3052 is also interesting. Why not College Drive? The Doc was told that it was because that is the road’s state designation and it was, after all, on a state road plan. However, a little further up the list of road projects was the widening of North Main Street in Madisonville from Hospital Drive to the traffic light at McDonald’s. Why not U.S. 41?
A little history here. In 2006, Rhoad’s wife, Dr. Judy Rhoads, MCC’s president, presented the project to a gathering of influential folks at a Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce meeting to develop a prioritized listing of projects for local state legislators.
College Drive received no support at the meeting.
Further, when the Pennyrile Area Development District put together a prioritized road project list in 2007 for the 2008 legislative session, it did not receive priority status.
The PADD list was developed with input from county, city, the local Department of Transportation district office and PADD officials.
The senator apparently took exception with the way two stories the Messenger produced in July concerning the College Drive residents’ opposition to the project were presented.
In an op-ed piece in July, Rhoads wrote that we had provided some “inaccurate information.” That there “is no ‘plan’ to widen College Drive.”
That’s parsing words. While true in the strictest sense that there is no “plan” on paper, residents were told by local DOT officials that is what they are looking at doing.
The state road plan describes the project as constructing “a turn lane by providing a three-lane curve on Kentucky 3052.”
Unless the Doc is badly mistaken, a turn lane can’t be added without widening the road.
Rhoads went on to say that no funds for construction have been authorized, and he is right. However, why spend $250,000 for design and another $100,000 for rights-of-way for a project that may not reach construction phase?
The senator points to other projects that he has worked to get on the state plan, and he should be applauded for those efforts.
However, his assertion that the College Drive project does not take funds away from “important projects,” misses the mark. The judge-executive and the mayor cited several projects they and PADD deemed more important that aren’t on the plan. That College Drive is would indicate that money is being spent on a project that could be better spent elsewhere.
The Doc doesn’t know if the project is necessary or not. I don’t live there and don’t travel out there enough to make a personal judgment.
But the people who live there don’t want it. The mayor doesn’t want it. The judge-executive doesn’t want it.
That’s good enough for the Doc. It should have been good enough for Sen. Rhoads.