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Kentucky to receive billions in infrastructure bill funds

The biggest chunks of money will go toward state highways, bridges and roads, but Louisville expects a substantial amount to come its way too for local projects.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — From pen to paper, and potentially, to roads near you in the coming years. President Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package is the largest infrastructure investment in decades.

And watching the President sign the bill in Washington D.C. Monday afternoon was Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who joined several other local leaders from across the country who were invited to the White House for the event.

Among the guarantees, $4.6 billion will be given to Kentucky over 5 years for highways, roads and bridges. $438 million will be used for bridge repair and replacement, and more than $390 million for public transportation. Millions more will go toward expanded broadband coverage.

"It's transformational for this Commonwealth," Gov. Andy Beshear said.

And a big chunk will be coming to Louisville too, with room for more.

"We worked very closely with the White House on all these different priorities for the infrastructure bill," Mayor Fischer said.

For years, Louisville locals have pressed for solutions to fix poor bridge conditions across the outskirts of the Metro, along with improving busier roads and the buses that run through them.

"Now we've got more funding behind it," Mayor Fischer said.

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Metro leaders say for years there's been a need for upgrades, but with limited wiggle room in their budget. They believe the record investment from Washington gives them a major green light.

"I wish we'd had the money to fix it in previous budgets. The money to fix our infrastructure has not kept up with the need," said District 9 Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, who chairs Louisville's Budget Committee. "This allows you to do things you just can't do with local funds. There's a lot of talk about the very big bridges, but there's money in this project for smaller bridges too."

Mayor Fischer said this won't stop at roads and bridges. There's also a symbolic barrier on the edge of downtown that he believes can be removed with further investment. Mayor Fischer says the city and state will compete for additional grant money available too.

He wants some of it put toward the "Modernizing 9th Street" project, which would create a gateway to West Louisville, by streamlining Roy Wilkins Avenue -- a road the Mayor says is wider than it needs to be.

"It's such a big boulevard, it's dangerous to cross, so modernize that and make it safer and make it more intimate where it's actually attractive to people," Mayor Fischer said. "We'll call it the Ninth Street Bridge, instead of the divide."

The city also hopes to pair that with a newer fleet of TARC buses.

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"Whether diesel or electric, we want to be moving in that manner," Mayor Fischer said.

As far as specifically how the funds will be divvied up locally, Mayor Fischer says some decisions will be made in Frankfort, while others will be discussed and decided on locally among Metro Councilmembers -- similar to how American Rescue Plan dollars have been allocated. 

It's a major move, that has the potential to lead to changes the Commonwealth starts to notice in the years to come.

Contact reporter Isaiah Kim-Martinez at IKimMartin@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter

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