First, the bad news: The project is nowhere near beginning, much less completion. There has been no effort to move utilities or acquire right-of-way for the improved road, and no design work has begun. In fact, there is no money set aside to get any of these things underway. So for all intents and purposes, the modern highway linking Eastern Kentucky to the central part of the state remains a dream.
But there is good news, too. At least state officials are finally talking, seriously, about the project.
Oh, there has been talk in the past — lots and lots of talk, over the course of lots and lots of decades. Most of it has come during election season by one upstart politician or another, seeking to grab a few votes out of the mountains with a perennial promise to modernize the road. And much as the flowers of spring wither and fade away under the heat of summer, so too have those oft-repeated promises after the ballots have been counted.
This time, however, feels different. For one, there is no election this year. For another, the words come not from hopeful politicians, but from the bureaucrats who will ultimately be tasked with seeing the job to completion.
In other words, state government appears, finally, to be taking seriously the matter of widening the Parkway.
It might still take many years before we see the first shovel of earth turned, maybe a decade or even decades before we can drive along a safer, modern highway. But at least it appears the effort has moved from the realm of political promise to actual project. That in itself is a reason for renewed hope.
But this is no time to relax if this project is ever to become a reality. Instead, it is time to hold our leaders’ feet to the fire ... and turn up the heat.