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TACK to receive more than $1 million for Knox fleet

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By John Friedlein

By JOHN FRIEDLEIN

jfriedlein@thenewsenterprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN — In a move that will both provide more Fort Knox employees with free rides to work and ease traffic on local roads, Gov. Steve Beshear on Thursday announced that a local transit system will receive more than $1 million in federal economic stimulus money to improve its fleet of buses and vans.

The Army post’s population is expected to swell next year as it adds thousands of new jobs and transforms into an administrative center through the Base Realignment and Closure initiative.

The Transit Authority of Central Kentucky, which will receive stimulus funds, last year started two transit services to the post: a park-and-ride program and a van pool service.

The services appear to have been well-received. What started as one bus and 15 riders has expanded into 13 vehicles and more than 150 passengers, said George Lafollette, TACK’s assistant transportation director.

Beshear, during a visit to Elizabethtown, said the increase in participation is a “clear indication of the demand that exists for alternative transportation in one of Kentucky’s fastest-growing urban areas.” He also said public transit will be increasingly important as the energy crisis continues.

“This is a small step in the right direction for Elizabethtown and this county.”

The state’s transit systems will receive a total of $50.3 million.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will pay for 17 vans with raised roofs and four 28-passenger buses, according to the governor’s office. Money also will go toward equipment such as security cameras, mobile computers and radios.

Some of the money also will benefit TACK’s other services. The agency provides rides for disabled and elderly passengers, for instance.

Most existing vehicles in the fleet have more than 200,000 miles, Lafollette said. “Our maintenance budget is out the window.”

Some of the Fort Knox riders who will benefit from the fleet improvement park their own vehicles at designated locations in Elizabethtown and Radcliff and catch a bus. Others participate in a van pool program, for which Fort Knox employees borrow the vehicles and pick up their fellow workers.

The Army picks up the bill.

Another benefit is riders don’t have to sit in lines at the post’s gates.

Beshear recently visited Fort Knox to announce $100 million in state spending to bolster the infrastructure of surrounding communities.

Transportation Secretary Joe Prather, a resident of Elizabethtown, said Thursday was an “especially proud day” for him, because the governor returned so soon to announce another link in the effort to prepare the community for the influx.

Tom Moorman, executive director of Central Kentucky Community Action, which oversees TACK, said: “We have not seen anything like the influx of people that we’re going to see in the next year. We knew that if we didn’t prepare for this, we’d not be ready when that happened. Now the agency will be able to support and grow the program.” For more information about TACK programs, call: 765-2582.

John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746.