I would like to thank all of our witnesses for testifying today and I would especially like to welcome my good friend, Secretary Mineta to the Committee.
As we all know, Congress will be working on the transportation reauthorization bill this year. This is a big deal to all of us, we all have transit needs.
We have all been hearing from the communities in our states about their transit needs. Primarily in Kentucky, the needs are for rural transportation. We do have needs for buses in Lexington, northern Kentucky and Louisville. Louisville is also very interested in a light rail system. They are very far along with their studies and would very much like to start the new construction phase. But I would like to concentrate on our rural needs today.
Kentucky has nearly 30 rural transit providers who receive federal assistance. We also have 3 small urban systems serving largely rural counties: Henderson, which also serves Henderson county, Owensboro, which serves Daviess county and Ashland, which serves Boyd county. Federal assistance is crucial to these agencies, without it they will cease to operate, leaving hundreds and thousands of Kentuckians immobile.
Many of the riders are elderly or disabled, and rural transit is their only way to shop, visit the doctor, go to church, and interact with others. Rural transit also provides transportation for workers to their jobs in some of the most economically depressed areas of the state and the country.
Rural transit is vital to our commonwealth, yet only requires a handful of new buses or vans statewide each year, and operating costs for the whole state are just a fraction of what any large metropolitan area needs.
Finally, since this is my only shot at you, I think I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the other transportation needs. We are a state that is bordered by 2 major rivers, so we have a lot of bridge needs.
Louisville needs 2 bridges, which I am sure you have been made well aware of. But the northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area also needs a bridge to replace the Brent Spence Bridge that allows I-71 and I-75 to cross the Ohio river.
The Brent Spence Bridge was designed to carry 80,000 vehicles per day, it carries 150,000. During rush hours it is nearly impassible and is a safety hazard because of truck congestion and deterioration due to the large volume.
Because I-71 and I-75 are major north-south interstates, this is truly a national project. It serves the busiest trucking corridor in the country and these highways are the main routes for 4 major international airports. Kentucky and Ohio are united in their support for a replacement and are moving forward together. But we must have federal assistance and soon to ensure that a suitable replacement is constructed before the Brent Spence Bridge becomes unusable.
Once again, I thank all of our witnesses for testifying today.