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Transportation workshop examines how the state sets priority for road projects

Jeff Moore, a certified planner with Neel-Schaffer Inc., explains how transportation projects are formed during Monday’s transportation meeting sponsored by the planning commission.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

JEFF MOORE

Monday, June 12, 2017, 11 p.m.  — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has implemented a new process to help prioritize road projects that stresses the importance of knowing the priorities of local residents, elected officials, business and industry, and weighing them against other needs that include improving safety, reduce congestion, economic growth and overall “bang for the buck.”

The process, called the “Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow,” or SHIFT, and how it affects funding for state road projects in Nelson County was explained Monday morning to members of the planning commission and representatives of local governments by Jeff Moore, a certified planner, and Karen Mohammadi, a professional engineer and certified planner.

Both Mohammadi and Moore are former Kentucky Transportation Cabinet employees who now work out of the Louisville office of Neel-Schaffer Inc., a multi-disciplined engineering firm based in Jackson, Miss.

Moore said the goal of SHIFT is to be data-driven, objective and transparent process. It also will include a healthy component of collaboration and input from stakeholders in a community — from landowners affected by a project to elected officials.

The state’s project list includes billions of dollars of construction projects, many of them outside the established 6-year road plan. SHIFT is seen as a way to better prioritize and evaluate projects, and in this way, the Transportation Cabinet can better meet a community’s transportation need.

On the state and regional level, each project will be evaluated and scored according to how well the project fulfills five broad needs that ask:

KAREN MOHAMMADI

– does the project improve safety?
– reduce congestion?
– fuel economic growth?
– spend tax dollars wisely?
– preserve existing infrastructure?

Using the SHIFT process, the Transportation Cabinet will also look to the transportation needs listed in a community’s comprehensive plan, Mohammadi explained. This means it is vital that a community’s comprehensive plan reflect a community’s true transportation priorities.

Mohammadi urged the planning commission members to examine the comprehensive plan and determine if its transportation priorities need to be updated. The commission also has a role in helping educate and get the public involved in the early stages of a road project, and to get supporters to lobby elected officials to support local projects.

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