"We're still committed to that," he said. "We've put a lot of money in eastern Kentucky. Some of the projects are further down in preparation than 421 to the border, but we have committed more and brought more to Harlan County than they've had in years, and we'll continue to do so."
Fletcher said $780 million worth of roads were being built in the state this year, which he said was a record for Kentucky.
Four of five phases of the work on U.S. 421 from Harlan to the Virginia line have been completed at a cost of $56 million, improving access into and out of the county and making the road safer by eliminating the curvy stretches of the highway, including over Crummies Mountain, which was bypassed by new construction.
The last leg of the project, 3.8 miles to Virginia, is expected to cost $51 million.
Deputy Communications Director Michael Goins, a Harlan County native who was with the governor during his stop in Harlan, said the road is on the state's six-year plan.
"I think it's currently in the design phase," Goins said.
The governor said he didn't have a timetable for the move of several Tri-City attractions, including the Kentucky Coal Mine Museum and School House Inn, into the state's park system.
"I'm not sure when that's going to happen, but that's clearly being looked at and something that we want to move forward on in the future," he said.
Fletcher said he was happy that the state's park system was doing a better job of breaking even financially.
The governor also talked about the problems Kentucky will face in the future with an aging population and said he would be focusing on health care, Medicaid reform and infrastructure building in the second half of his term.
"We're a state that's ideally located. We've got good people that are hard-working and very capable, and yet we haven't moved forward like a lot of states," he said. "Now we have some real challenges with the fact that our Medicaid population is 700,000 and our K-12 population is only 620,000.
"We've got real challenges. We're going to have about a $675 million shortfall in Medicaid. We're going to do some changes. We'll be rolling out a waiver request to the federal government later on this month. The challenge we have is controlling the cost of health care."
Fletcher said the percentage of the budget spent on health care will go from 10 percent of the budget in 2000 to 20 percent in 2010.
"That money's got to come from some place, and that means education," Fletcher said. "And that's not acceptable."
Fletcher said raising taxes could address the problem but would hurt the commonwealth in the long run.
Making the state "a less business-friendly, family-friendly place is not the answer," he said.
"(Medicaid) needs to be reformed," Fletcher said. "It was designed 40 years ago. We want to keep as many benefits as possible, but we've got to have some flexibility to tailor benefits and the ability to focus on controlling disease."
The governor also made a stop at the Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department, where he