The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Rep. Hal Rogers “Road to Nowhere.”

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The Kentucky Courier Journal ran a series of articles on December 16 and 17, 2007, on a wasteful pork project, the proposed Interstate 66.  This is another “road to nowhere” that dramatically demonstrates how a politician’s desire to “bring home the bacon” trumps other needed public works.

In the early 1990s, Interstate 66 was conceived as a coast-to-coast highway, but a 1994 study found that it wasn’t worth the cost.  Most states abandoned the project.  But facts did not deter Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) from his mission of building his boondoggle.  The 27-year incumbent, a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has already brought home $90 million for planning and engineering work in order to construct Interstate 66.  It is unlikely this road will ever cross Kentucky, never mind the country, as originally planned. 

Some local politicians and developers support the project, citing the road’s alleged ability to bring economic benefits to rural and economically deprived regions of Kentucky.  But, West Virginia has received $2.94 billion in pork since 1991, with at least $139 million of that in transportation projects, so it is hard to argue pork spending does much for economic development, as that state ranks 49th in per capita income.

Construction has not begun for I-66 and the roads that it would displace are not particularly busy.  Of the entire I-66 project, only two short sections that are 120 miles apart have reached the planning stage.  On is in Pike County and the other section would traverse Laurel and Pulaski Counties.  Those portions, approximately 61 miles total in length, are expected to cost $3.5 billion and would limit funding for other projects that are desperately needed in the state.  Government officials cannot answer the question of how the entire project will be funded.

In addition to the costs, there are environmental concerns, including harm to waterways and underground streams in Pulaski and Laurel Counties.  There are also several caves, raising worries about possible road collapses.  The road project will take about 200 acres of the Daniel Boone National Forest.  As questions continue to be raised about why the road even needs to be built, Rep. Rogers just keeps on truckin…he just brought home $2.5 million for I-66 with an earmark tucked in the pork-laden fiscal 2008 omnibus appropriations bill.

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