Quick Takes

Kentucky Senate: Reopen Capital Avenue

By: - February 16, 2023 10:18 am

The Floral Clock. (Kentucky Department of Tourism photo)

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Senate passed a measure to reopen a portion of Capital Avenue Wednesday, Senate Bill 11. The bill’s sponsor called it a symbol of open government. 

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, said in a floor speech that the move was in response to Gov. Andy Beshear closing a portion of the avenue between the Capitol and the Annex at the recommendation of Kentucky State Police. The vote was 28-6. 

“I just felt like this was an overreaction and taking away something from our citizens that shouldn’t be taken away,” Schickel said. 

Beshear announced the closure in September 2021. In addition to KSP, the governor said federal security partners made similar recommendations because of the road’s proximity to the Capitol and Annex. The Governor’s Mansion also is nearby.

According to the bill text, 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. 

Schickel said a similar measure passed with bipartisan support last year out of the Senate. 

The need for open government must be balanced with security threats, Schickel said. Two security groups, the Secret Service and Homeland Security,  did make recommendations to close the avenue after completing studies, as well as closing other roads near the Capitol, Schickel said.

Reopening the road would allow visitors to see sites, such as the Kentucky Floral Clock, from their car. Schickel said he has heard complaints from Frankfort residents about the closure as well. 

The nays were Democratic Sens. Karen Berg, Denise Harper Angel, Gerald Neal, Reginald Thomas and David Yates. Republican Sen. David Givens, the President pro tempore, also voted no. 

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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.