Business and the Economy
LEX/LOU Rail Line in Jeopardy
Plans for a possible rail line connecting Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort are moving forward, but that progress could soon stop. The man behind the concept is leaving his job. Executive director of the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation Ralph Tharp first released his plans for the line earlier this year. But his contract with the corporation will not be renewed. Tharp says he has the support of mayors along the route and he will continue to work on the project until his contract expires in October.
Tharp says the next step for the rail plan is a feasibility study, which would look at routes, stops and capacity. The study would cost around $300,000, and is necessary to seek federal funds for the project.
“We feel very confident that we can money that is put into the highway tax fund,” Tharp says “the federal tax fund that Kentucky creates every year, and we feel there is enough money in that to be used for the rail.”
Louisville and Lexington are working with the Brookings Institution to develop plans for a super region that connects the two cities. Fischer says transportation is a key part of any super region, though he’s not sure if a rail line is the best option.
“The link between Lexington and Louisville is something that I’m spending a lot of time on,” Fischer says “we need to create a regional economy, part of that will be transportation, what type of transportation, when it will be involved, we haven’t focused on that yet, but transportation obviously is a critical link: Lexington, Frankfort, Louisville.”
The question now is what will happen to the plan for a rail line.