Guthrie reports progress on Heartland Parkway project

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'The Heartland Parkway is a very important north-south corridor that I remain committed to.'

By Linda Waggener

U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie, who represents Kentucky's 2nd Congressional District, gave a progress report to the Heartland Parkway Foundation board of directors in Lebanon on Sept. 2. 

He shared news of pending reauthorization of the federal highway bill currently under consideration by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which he is a member, and affirmed that the bill contains the necessary funding for the next steps of the major road project spanning Taylor, Adair, Marion and Washington counties.

"The transportation bill is a massive five-year authorization totaling around $456 billion, so there may be no specifics soon," Guthrie said, "but the Heartland Parkway is a very important north-south corridor that I remain committed to."

Working with Congressman Ed Whitfield, Guthrie is supporting three proposals for additional funding to be included in the bill once it's approved. These are:

- Funding for the engineering design on the Columbia to Campbellsville section of the parkway.

- Funding for the engineering design on the Campbellsville Bypass.

- Funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental studies on the 40-mile section running from Sportsman Lake Road near Campbellsville to the Bluegrass Parkway through Lebanon and Springfield.

The Heartland Parkway will provide relief to both I-65 and I-75, serve as a connector to I-64 to the north, and will also connect with the future I-66 route along the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway, facilitating economic development and tourism.

Guthrie expressed his continuing strong support of the project, commending the Heartland Parkway Foundation Board of Directors for the regional effort to build support for the project.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's John Moore, branch manager for project development of District 4 in Elizabethtown, gave an update on the ongoing preliminary engineering and environmental study on the Columbia-Campbellsville segment and Campbellsville Bypass. He said that additional public meetings are planned in the fall.

The Heartland Parkway is a project that was started in 2000-2001 with the support of Congressman Ron Lewis, R-Ky., and the board's mission is to educate the public on the importance of the construction of a four-lane highway along the Kentucky 555/55 corridor starting at the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway north of Springfield to the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway at Columbia.

Early discussions spotlighting the need for the connecting corridor came out of the Team Taylor County reorganization after the closing of Fruit of the Loom left the county with 29 percent unemployment.

Heartland Parkway Foundation chairman John Chowning, Campbellsville University's vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, has served in a position of leadership since its inception.

"The Heartland Parkway Foundation Inc. was established to sustain and build long-term support for the project," Chowning said. "The meeting further evidences regional unity and commitment of the four counties to make this project a reality in the future."

Dr. William Huston, president of St. Catharine College in Springfield, said, "I have seen similar dreams for development fail because of lack of leadership."

He commended Chowning and fellow board members for regularly bringing together leaders from each county to meet with officials so that interest and involvement remain constant.

Both State Rep. Jimmie Higdon of Lebanon and State Rep. "Bam" Carney of Campbellsville spoke briefly to add their continuing support.

- Linda Waggener is marketing and media relations coordinator at Campbellsville University.