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Our Engineering and Public Works Roadshow made another stop on Monday, joining Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, State Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray, and Transportation Committee Chair Rep. John Blanton in Frankfort to showcase the Mountain Parkway Expansion, a sweeping infrastructure project aimed at improving transportation and connectivity in the Bluegrass State’s eastern region. As Sec. Gray told attendees, “We’re literally moving mountains to get this project done.”

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And it has been a long time coming – the fulfillment of a promise made more than six decades ago. In 1963, the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway opened as a two and four-lane roadway, intended as a high-speed route to connect rural eastern Kentucky with the rest of the state. The project was never completed, creating a chasm – both physical and economic – that divided the state.

Over the years, traffic volume has increased, creating safety issues and congestion that have become the stuff of legend. Last summer, a survey of drivers found that the Parkway was among the most-feared roads in the nation, with hairpin turns and blink-and-you’ll-miss-them offramps. The Mountain Parkway Expansion Project is about improving safety by modernizing the roads, designing safer interchanges to give drivers more time to merge, and eliminating dangerous curves around the mountain. The Project will widen the existing two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway, making for a safer and more efficient mechanism to move people, goods, and services throughout the state.

In his remarks at yesterday’s event, ACEC Executive Vice President Steve Hall spoke of what he called “transformational engineering,” which is the focus of our Roadshow. The use of the word “transformational” is intentional. Projects like the Parkway – and like the others we have spotlighted through our Roadshow over the last 14 months – are examples of just some of the incredible work performed by our member firms. Congratulations to Qk4, HMB Professional Engineers, Stantec, HDR, Strand Associates, American Engineers, EA Partners, Lochner, WSP, JMT, and Palmer for what I know will be a life-changing project for the commonwealth and its citizens.

And that was the impetus behind this event and behind the Roadshow as a whole: to showcase the essentiality of engineering as the catalyst for a better and more prosperous future for everyone.

Speaking of which, I was struck by something Gov. Beshear said in his remarks yesterday. He said that the Mountain Parkway Project was creating jobs and opportunities in eastern Kentucky, giving young people there the option to stay in the region rather than forcing what he called a decision between “moving or changing their dreams.”

That’s the other side of the engineering story – and it is one we are always proud to tell. It’s the human side that is not just about steel and concrete. It’s about the communities that rely on us, the aspirations we represent, and the work we do to shape a future in which we all can thrive.

Watch the entire Roadshow event below:

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Finally, a quick update on R&D amortization. The House could vote this week on the business and family tax package (HR 7024) that would delay the R&D amortization requirement until 2026, retroactive to the 2022 tax year.  House leadership is holding active discussions today with House Republicans about bringing the bill to the floor. In the meantime, ACEC relaunched our action alert to help build momentum. We’re keeping our foot on the gas until we drive this home. Stay tuned.

Have a great week,

Linda Bauer Darr

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January 31, 2024



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