Politics

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo wants to extend Eastern Kentucky’s Mountain Parkway by 140 miles into West Virginia, and he’s looking for congressman to champion the project.

The extension would cost $8 to $10 billion, according to transportation officials.

Funding would require support from Congress–and one potential candidate to push the project is the Senate majority leader.

Stumbo, a Democrat, said if Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can secure that money from the federal government, the highway could be named after him.

“He should be recognized for that role because it would change up the dynamics of that region for everyone that lives up there–Democrats, Republicans and those not registered,” Stumbo said.

Stumbo says the extension from Prestonsburg to Beckley, West Virginia, would bring commerce and tourism into the area and allow the region to share its workforce.

The Mountain Parkway is currently undergoing a $753 million project, expanding all of the highway to four lanes.

Stumbo compared McConnell’s role in he project to that of late Democratic Senate Majority Leader Robert Bird for a highway in West Virginia.

“I would sponsor a bill to name that road after him just as the road in West Virginia is named after Sen. Bird, one of his predecessors in that office,” Stumbo said.

Stumbo says he will push to fund a feasibility study for the project during next year’s General Assembly.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.