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Number of Area Development Districts: 15 Total annual funding: $65,000 – $105,000 (80% federal, 10% state, 10% local match) Date established rural transportation planning program: 1994
To accommodate the state’s diversity in geography, economy, and transportation network, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) uses its 12 highway districts, 15 Area Development Districts (ADDs, the state’s regional development organizations), and 9 MPOs to facilitate local input and priorities into statewide planning.  Following the passage of the 1991 surface transportation law ISTEA, KYTC began to contract with the ADDs to form a regional transportation committee for each region (outside of MPO boundaries).

Conducting Rural Consultation and Developing Regional Priorities

The committee membership includes local and county officials, helping the state to meet federal requirements for consultation with local officials.  In addition to coordinating with local governments through the regular transportation committee meetings, the ADD planners, along with staff from the KYTC Highway District Office, meet with each mayor and county judge executive at least once a year to discuss transportation concerns. [1]

Other members on the committee vary by region, but can include representatives of freight interests, local public works, law enforcement, emergency medical services, school transportation, human service delivery, bicycle and pedestrian groups, or local industrial and economic development entities.  Staff from the KYTC’s Highway District Offices participate in the committee, but in an advisory capacity and not as members.

The ADDs’ regional transportation committees identify transportation needs across the region.  As part of that identification process, relevant information is collected for each transportation need through the use of Project Information Forms (PIFs) that serve as an initial scoping study.  Every two years, the regional transportation committees, with local input and coordination with the KYTC Highway District offices, prioritize all the projects on the Unscheduled Needs List.  The ultimate desire of prioritization is that those high priority projects are included in the biennial state’s highway plan which is the transportation element of the state budget.

The ADDs develop a Public Involvement Plan, with an emphasis on expanding the component addressing minority and underserved populations within the region.

Map of Kentucky Area Development District boundaries
Click to enlarge (Courtesy Kentucky Council of ADDs)

Coordinating with other entities is an important role for the ADDs to play.  Each ADD is expected to coordinate not only with neighboring rural and metropolitan planning regions and KYTC Highway District Offices, but also with modal transportation owners or operators, along with health services, emergency management, and agencies serving the underserved populations.

Maintaining a close working relationship with local governments and stakeholders makes the ADDs an asset to KYTC.  Jeff Moore, transportation planner in the KYTC District 3 Planning Section, says of the value the ADDs bring to transportation planning: “They are our eyes and ears, and without them, we would be operating blind.”[2]

Regional Transportation Asset Review

The ADDs also collect other information that shapes the state highway plan.  They develop a Regional Transportation Asset Review, which references regional goals and objectives and include several components.  This includes maintaining an inventory of multimodal facilities within their region, including airports, railways, intermodal facilities, river ports, transit systems, greenway networks and highways. They maintain listings of all facilities which generate significant peak or continuous traffic and congestion in each region. They provide an inventory to the state on local land use plans, the approval dates and the appropriate contact information. In the past five years, the KYTC also contracted with the regions to create a new GIS database of all of the public roadways in the state.

As part of the Regional Transportation Asset Review, the ADDs complete a Major Freight Users Inventory for their region to assist the state with considering freight facilities in its planning.  The inventory also has helped the cabinet to identify corridors for possible inclusion in the highway system known as the Kentucky Freight Focus Network by gathering information about facilities over 100,000 square feet in size or that had over 100 employees.  This opportunity to engage with private sector entities has helped some of the ADDs to see more businesses involved in their regional transportation planning process.

Other aspects of the Regional Transportation Asset Review include inventories of rail yards and truck parking facilities, reviews of intermodal connectors, and bicycle and pedestrian asset data collection.  The ADDs assist with asset management by reviewing the state’s Adequacy Reviews of segments on the state’s highway system, which helps to identify segments that may be included in the Unscheduled Needs List for future prioritization.  The components of the Regional Transportation Asset Review are updated on a four-year schedule.

The ADD planners assist the KYTC with completing transportation plans and small area studies, and with addressing air quality issues in rural counties that are not in attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Local assistance to communities within the region is an important role, as in other states.  One significant area of assistance is for the ADDs to serve in a “quality control” role, assisting local governments and the KYTC with verifying data contained in communities’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan to document pedestrian ramps on state-maintained roadways.[3]

For more information on Kentucky’s ADDs, visit

[1] Regional Transportation Planning Program, Annual Work Plan FY2016

[2] Personal communication with Jeff Moore, March 2016

[3] Regional Transportation Planning Program, Annual Work Plan FY2016

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