Grimes in Covington: Will Fight Tolls on Brent Spence Bridge
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes spoke to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce at the Metropolitan Club in Covington on Friday.
She addressed what she viewed as many accomplishments during her first term in office but also took time to speak as a candidate.
Grimes is the presumptive Democratic nominee for US Senate where she will likely face Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.
Of arguably the most pressing issue facing Northern Kentucky, Grimes said she would be a champion for the Brent Spence Bridge project, a transportation priority that she hopes won't have tolls used as a funding method.
"You here in Northern Kentucky, you know the potential that exists for economic prosperity but what we all know is Washington is so paralyzed by politics and partisanship and rancor that we haven't been able to unlock that potential," Grimes told the room.
"It has kept this region of the state from getting the much needed assistance it is due. The top of the list: the Brent Spence Bridge project and surrounding access highways that are needed. It's important and its economic impact is equally as obvious."
Grimes said she would be a champion for the project whereas McConnell is what she called "a chatterbox". She also said that Northern Kentucky is suffering from an economic drain because of the lack of progress on the multi-billion project.
"We can't put a price tag on the human lives at stake because we don't have the federal funding for this vital project. I know I'm preaching to the choir here but what we haven't had is someone who is advocating, someone who is fighting to bring that here."
She said that she doesn't want to see the project happen with "tolls on the backs of Northern Kentuckians".
A highway plan released this week by Governor Steve Beshear factors in more than $1.7 billion in toll revenue bonds. A plan jointly released by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Ohio Department of Transportation also included tolls as a primary method to fund the project.
Secretary Grimes also said that she would fight for higher education in the region and throughout the Commonwealth. She visited recently with Northern Kentucky University President Geoffrey Mearns.
"I know the importance of the (educational) institutions and the role they play in the vitality of our economy," Grimes said. "As your next senator I will be the champion we need for promoting our research at higher institutions."
The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport was also a topic. "I have also witnessed the decrease in activity in our Northern Kentucky airport," Grimes said. "I know how frustrating it is for each and every one of you. As your senator I will work tirelessly to make sure we increase the activity (at the airport)."
Grimes also listed her Northern Kentucky bona fides, boasting of being born in Mason County and having relatives from and in Newport.
She is also keenly aware of the heroin epidemic plaguing the region, something she said could be combated with better educational opportunities and employment chances.