Quick Takes

Kentucky Senate, again: Reopen Capital Avenue

By: - January 29, 2024 6:19 pm

The Floral Clock on Capital Avenue must now be viewed only on foot. (Kentucky Department of Tourism photo)

FRANKFORT — A Republican senator is once again pushing to reopen Capital Avenue near the Kentucky Capitol to traffic. The stretch of road, which passes by the Governor’s Mansion, was closed to vehicles in 2021 for security reasons. 

John Schickel. (LRC Public Information)

Senate Bill 75 from Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, easily passed the Senate Monday in a vote of 28-7. 

The bill, which Schickel has championed twice before, had 22 GOP co-sponsors and one Democrat — Sen. Robin Webb, of Grayson. However, Schickel’s legislation has died in the House in previous sessions after winning favor from the Senate. The six remaining Democrats in the Senate and President Pro Tempore Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, voted against the measure. 

Schickel said on the Senate floor Monday that the bill was not about “a tit-for-tat with the governor,” but “a very serious matter” of reopening the road between the Capitol and Capitol Annex to traffic. Schickel added the closure affected all Frankfort lawmakers and members of the public who visit the Capitol, especially those visiting for the first time who have not seen attractions on the road, such as the Kentucky Floral Clock. 

“This is something that will be making an impression on them for the rest of their lives,” Schickel said. 

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced the road closure in September 2021, citing recommendations from Kentucky State Police and federal security partners because of the road’s location between the Capitol building and its annex. The Governor’s Mansion is also nearby. 

The road had been temporarily closed before after the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, as some feared similar situations at statehouses around the country. 

Under the legislation, the Finance and Administration Cabinet could not stop vehicle traffic on a portion of Capital Avenue between the Capitol and the Annex. Emergency responders or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet could temporarily stop the flow of traffic on Capitol Avenue between the Annex and the Capitol to conduct their business. 

The Senate Transportation Committee passed the bill in a vote of 8-2 last week. 

This legislative session is Schickel’s last chance to see this bill through the General Assembly, as he will not seek reelection this November.

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.