The Owensboro-Daviess County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has delivered its Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow (SHIFT) recommendations to the state.

Gov. Matt Bevin launched the SHIFT program in 2016 as a way to reduce over-programming and provide a clear road map for future construction projects. Under the program, metropolitan planning organizations, area development districts and regional Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) district offices sponsor projects from the Continuing Highway Analysis Formula database. These lists are sent to the state for rankings and then sent back to the MPO and regional KYTC offices so that they can use "boost" scores to better position their projects on the state's two-year highway plan.

There are more than 900 projects statewide split into northern, southern, eastern and western regions.

The MPO, using 15-point boosts, chose four out of 15 total projects identified by themselves and the KYTC that the MPO determined to be of the utmost importance to Owensboro and Daviess County. The group assigned boosts to improving Fairview Drive from Settles Road to Kentucky 54, reworking Old Hartford Road from Breckenridge Street to Burlew Boulevard, reconstructing 18th Street from Breckenridge Street to Leitchfield Road to allow for center turn lanes, and improving Kentucky 54 from U.S. 60 to Jack Hinton Road.

In the western region, Warren, Hopkins, Marshall and Christian counties received higher state ratings for some of their roads projects, putting the Kentucky 54 project in seventh out of 325 identified projects throughout the region. However, those numbers are not finalized and could change based on how other MPOs and traffic groups utilize their priority boosts, said MPO Coordinator Tom Lovett.

"The MPO have prioritized which projects they feel are most important and will best serve Owensboro and Daviess County," he said. "The Kentucky 54 project received a state ranking of 55.5. Both the MPO and KYTC gave this project a boost, bringing its score up to 85.5. The state will look at all the numbers and rank them in order from 100 down. No one can score more than 89.5 this year. Kentucky 54 will be up toward the top. That is pretty solid. Beyond that, other projects come down to prioritization across the state."

The final approved projects list will not happen until after this year's legislative session, Lovett said.

"Now it will all go back to KYTC and eventually it will make it to Gov. Bevin," he said. "That final rank of approved projects compiled by KYTC will become the skeleton for the next two-year plan. Then, the governor will recommend it to the legislature and there will be some tinkering and added projects and then it will go back to the governor and that will be the state's project priorities for the next two years."

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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