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It's time to develop all of Kentucky to its potential

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By The Staff

In response to (The) Courier Journal's Dec. 17 trashing Interstate 66 and Kentucky as a whole ...

The first time I ever heard of the "Road to Nowhere" was when Happy Chandler, running for governor in 1953, called Gov. Lawrence Wetherby's proposed Kentucky Turnpike from Louisville to Elizabethtown, the "Road that starts nowhere and ends nowhere." Today, what was the Kentucky Turnpike is now part of I-65, one of the busiest roads in Kentucky.

Despite the lesson they could have learned from Happy's hype, "Road to Nowhere" is what The Courier-Journal is calling Interstate 66 now. I had forgotten that Interstate 65 from Louisville to Elizabethtown was first a toll road before becoming part of Interstate 65. My good friend, Mayor Pat Bell, reminded me of this.

The story in The Courier-Journal by C.R. Dunlap is a self-serving one.

Often it takes a long view for projects to pay off. I know that a new arena for basketball being built in downtown Louisville is going to be a lot more expensive located there than if they built somewhere else in Jefferson County. Reviving downtown Louisville has been a very expensive project, costing way too much money. But in the end, it probably will work out just like the subsidizing of Ford Motors and Toyota Motors has worked out. Both were much too expensive projects at the outset, but both paid off in the long run, just as Interstate 66 will in Southern Kentucky.

The districts that Interstate 66 would take in go through some areas of our state that have historically seen very little money spent on roads, especially during Democratic years. It's better when the Republicans come to power every 30 or 40 years. Gov. Ernie Fletcher changed that for Adair County, spending more on roads and bridges in Adair County than anyone (maybe all other governors combined) before. We had been promised a bypass for more than 50 years here in Columbia. Gov. Fletcher built it.

We are now awaiting the Heartland Parkway from the Bluegrass Parkway to Columbia, which would connect to KY 61 South and then Highway 111 in Tennessee. That will be a sound investment for Kentucky and the nation. It could lead to saving as much as one hour to two hours of driving time from Louisville to Chattanooga and would relieve traffic on a much too busy Interstate 65. Beyond that, it is environmentally sound, because it will mean far less fuel will be burned getting from Elizabethtown and points north to Chattanooga and all points south.

What is pork to The Courier-Journal, it seems by reading the paper, is any public money spent outside of Jefferson and surrounding counties. We seem to get roads in South Central Kentucky only when the Republicans and (or including?) Happy Chandler are in office. Interstate 66 is a dream of Rep. Hal Rogers, who knows as well as The Courier-Journal that interstates make the difference in our economy.

Why should The Courier-Journal trash our state? The only reason I can figure out is because federal and state dollars would not be spent in Louisville, but in a larger part of Kentucky, which doesn't go through Louisville.

I do a lot of business in Louisville, and I have a lot of friends in Louisville. And believe me, they don't like the editorial policies any better than I do. The Courier's editorials leave a bad impression of Louisville and its businesses there, just as they leave a bad taste when we have to stomach them.

Pikeville, London, Somerset, Russell Springs, Columbia, Edmonton, Glasgow and Bowling Green will benefit from this road. Is The Courier-Journal jealous that the rest of the state might benefit the way Louisville has from its road system?

When the CJ considers the Dishman Lane sinkhole, do they remember their own floodplain?

The story in the Dec. 17 edition centered on a sinkhole on Dishman Lane in Bowling Green. The Courier-Journal made it sound like all of Kentucky is a sinkhole and not worthy of any investment.

Why did Chrysler build and later General Motors buy what is now the Corvette Plant in Bowling Green? I would not be surprised to see the tri-cities of Elizabethtown, Glasgow and Bowling Green one day growing to surpass the Great Louisville. I believe the Courier is jealous of the real Kentucky. Maybe that's why The Courier-Journal wrote a damning editorial about the Warren County Transpark.

For The Courier-Journal to have put a 3 1/2-page story together to trash our state is just unthinkable. No real Kentuckian would do this. It makes no sense. Are they afraid that they won't get two bridges to cross the Ohio and be able to spend billions of dollars on the great lawn that gets flooded every year? Will that maintenance of the Great Lawn will be scrutinized by the CJ for the pork that it is? But of course, The Courier-Journal is not owned by Kentucky people and they could care less about our thoughts or our state. I'm going to take my ball and go home if you don't play by my rules, they seem to say. It seems sort of childish.

Pork is what The Courier-Journal calls any project outside of Jefferson County. The Courier should write about the excesses in costs of all our roads and schools, look at the cost of private versus government programs and the excessive salaries of some government employees.

Spend your time helping all of Kentucky be a better place by giving the good of Kentucky at least equal billing. Recognize injustice caused by both parties. That will give you something to do with your time for the rest of your life. Or is the only course of action left open to us to vote Republican in order to get a fair share of spending in our area?

Take a look at the cities of Tennessee to our south. They have 10 times the large cities as Kentucky, and from one end to the other, Tennessee has interstates and highways that connect and create a great transportation network.

When the Cumberland Parkway and, yes, even the Bluegrass Parkway were first built, you could drive sometimes for miles and not meet a vehicle, but both superroads now carry a increasingly greater traffic.

The Heartland Parkway would make more sense to me than even Interstate 66, because it would connect more traffic directly in a shorter distance to save hours and miles of driving.

Interstate 66 would take years to build because the route goes east/west and is a longer distance to connect. It would bring prosperity to a strip of Kentucky in the middle of the state that hasn't seen the Great Lawn of Louisville.

We won't have to tear down old buildings to build new ones, because we don't have any. We could all go to Louisville on a tour bus and go downtown and be awed by the big city, but of course we would need The Courier to direct us, because we ain't smart and educated like you'uns. I added the dialect because the great CJ likes to condescendingly portray rural Kentucky as backwards and slow in so many of its articles, all the while trying to appear altruistic - a perverse bit of sanctimony, if you ask me.

Maybe we are as dumb as the CJ portrays us. But we may not be as backward as they want to think.

This Interstate 66 has more colleges on or close to it than there are in Louisville, when you add the medical school and college at Pikeville, Alice Lloyd College, Hazard Community College, University of the Cumberlands, Somerset Community College at London, Somerset and Russell Springs; Lindsey Wilson College, Campbellsville University, Western Kentucky University at Glasgow and Bowling Green, Hopkinsville Community College, Murray State University and Paducah Community College, and Mid-Continent University. Interstate 66 will be a boon to all of them, to all of us and, in the end, to all of Kentucky.

Get a life, Courier! We have one here and it's pretty good.

P.S. Get a geologist to check out Jefferson County. If I'm right, I think you will find that a lot of it was built in a swamp. You know it occasionally floods.

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Ralph Waggener is president of South Central Printing Inc. in Columbia. Contact him at ralph1@southcentralprinting.com.