12/15/03 In early November, Karyn Moskowitz, a nationally prominent resource economist/environmentalist presented her documentary, “Change is Inevitable, Highways Are Not” to many groups along the proposed I-66 route in Kentucky. The film documented four different Appalachian communities and how they have fought against road-building projects in their areas. This film has helped many to see the destruction that roads bring and what has worked for others, and what has not. On behalf of KICK 66, I would like to publicly thank Ms. Moskowitz for her generosity of devoting her time, expertise and efforts.
There was a good turnout in many of these communities, especially in London. There are many citizens who are opposed to I-66, a road that would displace homes and families and bulldoze through the Daniel Boone National Forest, a boon to the local community for providing recreation to many outdoor enthusiasts, sportsmen and women, hunters, hikers, boaters, cavers, medicinal plant and mushroom gatherers and ORV’rs. Many tourism dollars come to local businesses from the DBNF. It is a local treasure that we all must fight to preserve.
Many say, “There’s LOTS of trees-so what if a few are cut down for a highway that will bring so many GREAT things to this region?” Well yes, there are a lot of trees. These trees provide a valuable service, removing carbon dioxide from the air, helping to clean and filter our water and prevent erosion and flooding. Most existing trees are young trees, as most of the “old growth” was clear cut in the early 1900’s in the name of “progress.” These trees also provide valuable habitat for thousands of other vital species, which could be exterminated by removing those trees. Think about this, is it possible that the pine beetle and other insect infestations might have happened because of destruction of their habitat, so they moved, en masse, elsewhere?
KICK 66 is much bigger than a few locals here in London & Somerset. There are many state and national environmental protection groups that are behind us, The Sierra Club, Heartwood and the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) just to name a few. Prominent scientists, environmentalists and litigators are involved. KICK 66 groups have formed along the proposed route in Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois and Missouri.
We need YOU to become involved. Some people think that I-66 is a “done deal,” why bother? I-66 is a proposed road that is being studied, nothing more. Some people erroneously think that I-66 is the “magic bullet” that will bring those wished for high-paying manufacturing jobs. Unfortunately, people from all over this country who have lost their high-paying manufacturing jobs that moved to Mexico or India will tell you that it just won’t happen. Jobs may come as a result of I-66, but to make ends meet, you will still have to work a double shift at the new Burger King (and other fast food joints/gas stations) that’ll be built, because that is what the road will bring, a bunch of minimum wage jobs. Meanwhile, the Burger King (and other fast food joints/gas stations) in town will probably close as a result of travelers bypassing the I-75/80 intersection and the town of London. Heck, there may even be a new Kroger’s to work at, but that might be tough what with all those new self-checkouts they’re installing. Just think, those self-checkouts don’t need health benefits, never take a sick day, can automatically calculate correct change and are always on the job, not gossiping with their co-workers! Finally, and probably most important, we need people from east of I-75 to become involved.
I-66 was originally planned to be built on the eastern side first, from Daniel Boone/HR Pkwy, down to the weigh stations. The plans were changed due to anticipated local opposition because more people live on that eastern side. So the priority became Somerset/London, because there would be less opposition due to less population along that proposed route. Once Somerset/London I-66 becomes reality, well, they’ll just HAVE to continue on the eastern side! Many say, “That’s OK-I’ll just move, can’t stand in the way of progress.” Is I-66 REALLY progress? Is that what “progress” is all about? More pavement creating impervious surfaces, causing runoff of pollutants and flooding. More minimum wage jobs so our kids will still have to leave home to find better paying jobs elsewhere? Even Lexington has experienced an outflux of people seeking better paying jobs in metropolitan areas and an influx of people working for lower pay (thus contributing less money to the local economy). Many people think they have hit the jackpot, the state will pay LOTS of money for my land. Think again, you will get appraised value and not a penny more. If your property is taken by eminent domain you’ll be lucky to get that. Also any profits made on the sale of property taken by eminent domain is subject to Kentucky capital gains tax, be sure to hire a good accountant!
Many say, “they’re going to spend the money somewhere, better here than somewhere else.” Those people just don’t get it. THERE IS NO MONEY FOR I-66. Our gas taxes will have to be raised to pay for it. We already pay some .35 extra per gallon for federal and state taxes. How much extra would YOU be willing to pay for a gallon of gas to build I-66?
The next London/Somerset KICK 66 meeting will be held at the Laurel County Public Library in London on Monday, December 8 at 6:00 p.m. Please join us in our efforts to stop this waste of our farms, families, funds, forests and future! If you can’t attend but would like to comment or find out more, please visit the KICK 66 website at http://www.KICK66.org