University Officials Start Lobbying for Capital Projects Early

by Tony McVeigh on June 17, 2011

Kentucky public colleges and universities are already compiling their capital project wish lists to get ready for next year’s legislative session.

A $33 million Engineering-Physics building tops the projects list at Murray State University, but President Randy Dunn says the school also badly needs a new $62 million library. And with online technology rapidly replacing books, Dunn knows the facility must be different from traditional libraries.

“It’s not what we think of a library when we went to school,” said Dunn. “It’s much more areas where, yes, books are stored. But you also have meeting rooms–electronic libraries that exist.”

At Kentucky State University, officials are lobbying for funds to build a $2 million pedestrian bridge, among other projects.

U.S. 60 slices right through the middle of the campus in Frankfort.  There’s a tunnel under the road, but Jack McNear, of KSU facility operations, says students don’t like to use it.

“It’s dark.  It’s lit, but it’s a 1969-style tunnel,” said McNear (photo, right).  “And so, they cross the street. Though the speed limit is 45 on U.S. 60, it does tend to be a hazard for our students.”

 The pedestrian bridge is KSU’s third priority, behind a new nursing building and a central boiler plant.  Lawmakers approved the nursing building in 2006, but then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher vetoed it.

The 2012 legislative session is still seven months away, but university officials are already letting lawmakers see their capital project needs.  In these tight budget times, public colleges may be lucky to get even one project funded through the general fund.  Bonded projects sometimes fare better, but even those need legislative approval.

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