ELKHORN CITY – Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday joined Department for Local Government Commissioner Tony Wilder and local officials to announce funding to comprise a development plan for potential housing, infrastructure and economic enhancement sites surrounding the U.S. 460 corridor in Eastern Kentucky.
“The construction and expansion of U.S. 460 in eastern Kentucky is a vastly significant road project for the region, but this project is about more than just laying pavement and creating a safe highway,” Beshear said in a press release. “The project is also about expanding opportunities. Modern roads mean increased possibilities for housing growth and business creation, and the development plan, made possible through this funding, will lay the blueprint for what is possible in this region.”
Pike and Letcher counties are receiving $300,000 in multi-county coal severance funds to complete the development plan for potential sites created by the relocation of U.S. 460 and an additional site recently acquired by the county, known as “Coal Mountain.”
“The mountainous landscape of Appalachia makes it a challenge to create new residential and business development sites in the region,” Wilder said. “The new, flatter areas created by the reconstruction of U.S. 460 are invaluable to the region’s economic expansion. Local officials will be able to use this new site development plan to attract and accelerate intelligent economic growth that will benefit the area for generations to come.”
The development plan will identify the best locations for commercial, industrial and residential developments, as well as determine the future water, sewer and infrastructure needs to support these developments. The plan will also define capital requirements for future site improvements and forecast changes in county demographics that may result from investment and economic expansion along the corridor.
In total, these sites represent approximately 1,445 acres of potential development.
“Thank you to the Beshear administration for all the support they have given to Pike County for road and bridge projects in the past few months –– $8.24 million for the Pond Bridge at Draffin, $2 million for the Fishtrap access road and $300,000 for this development plan,” Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said. “With this newest project, we intend to do something that has not been done before in the United States. It is certain to be beneficial to the citizens of Pike County for many future generations.”
“I am pleased that Sen. Jones and I were able to work with our colleagues in the House to secure funding for this project,” Sen. Johnny Ray Turner of Prestonsburg said. “This is a giant investment in economic development in our region. This plan is exactly what we need in Eastern Kentucky to grow additional commercial business and industry as well as provide additional residential development. Gov. Beshear shows his continued leadership by working to improve the quality of life for all Kentuckians as well as attempting to spur economic development. This is the kind of leadership we need and have come to expect from Gov. Beshear. Thank you, governor.”
“The U.S. 460 project has re-defined our region in so many positive ways in recent years, so it’s crucial that we find the best ways to build on that,” Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville said.
LGEDF/Coal Severance Funds are a portion of coal severance taxes set aside to fund projects benefiting two or more coal-producing counties.