Beshear hands out BRAC checks

Photo by Jill Pickett
Gov. Steve Beshear speaks Wednesday at the Lincoln Trail Area Development District office in Elizabethtown, before presenting checks for funding for area BRAC-related road and infrastructure projects.

The News Enterprise
August 26, 2010
By JOHN FRIEDLEIN

Big changes bring big checks.

Gov. Steve Beshear on Wednesday handed out oversized, multi-million dollar checks to local officials for improving the infrastructure in communities surrounding Fort Knox. The Army post is adding high-paying jobs through the latest Base Realignment and Closure initiative.

The General Assembly during this past legislative session approved a budget that includes $151 million for improvements such as road, sewer and water projects.

"By taking advantage of this incredible potential for growth, Kentucky can support the mission of United States military installations," Beshear said at the Lincoln Trail Area Development District office in Elizabethtown.

The post realignment — which includes the addition of the Human Resources Command — is expected bring 13,000 new residents to the region, straining infrastructure, the governor said.

"One could say that this is a region suffering huge growing pains. I prefer to say that this is a region enjoying huge growing pains," he said.

Specifically, Beshear mentioned worsening traffic. A little more than $112 million of the new money will pay for four road projects designed to alleviate congestion. For instance, the funds will help pay for an Elizabethtown to Radcliff connector.

Most of the projects were in the state’s six-year road plan. But their completion has been accelerated because of BRAC.

"Few major road projects in this state will have been conceived, planned and completed as quickly as these will be," Beshear said.

Other projects include a $2 million upgrade to the Elizabethtown water plant.

"BRAC will forever change this region," Beshear said. "To me the support of BRAC is both an opportunity and an obligation."

The state already has put $100 million toward this goal.

Wendell Lawrence, director of the Lincoln Trail Area Development District, said preparing for the changes has been a very complex undertaking with "maximum cooperation at all levels."

He said the results speak for themselves. "In my business, this is how things are supposed to work."

Col. Rick Schwartz, garrison commander of Fort Knox, said the post could not have done it without the partnership of the local officials gathered at the presentation.

"With this financial gesture of deeds backing up words, we are ready to continue to move forward."

John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.

This story, written by John Friedlein was provided to One Knox courtesy of The News Enterprise. Read more stories from The News Enterprise at www.thenewsenterprise.com.