Widening Interstate 64 a top road priority

By PAUL GLASSER Published:

When regional officials lobby for road projects during the 2012 legislative session, widening Interstate 64 in Franklin County will be a high priority.

The Bluegrass Area Development District – tasked with economic development issues – published a list of key projects this week. The agency includes officials from 15 central Kentucky counties.

The counties submitted 59 road projects to the wish list including four from Franklin County. However, it’s too early to tell which projects could receive funding, says Judge-Executive Ted Collins.

Widening I-64 from four lanes to six between U.S. 127 and U.S. 60 is the top priority in Franklin County, Collins said. It was ranked second in overall priority on the development district’s wish list.

“It will improve the whole Bluegrass Area Development District,” he said.

The project would also include improvements to the bridges over the Kentucky River and the interchanges at U.S. 127 and U.S. 60 at a cost of about $93 million.

Other requests include improving safety on U.S. 460 between Redding Road in Franklin County and KY 3378 in Scott County.

Collins said there are several dangerous curves with line-of-sight issues on the road. The project would cost about $24.8 million and is ranked 17th on the priority list.

Devils Hollow Road also has safety and line-of-sight issues between Pea Ridge Road and U.S. 127, Collins said. He said he’s concerned about buses that travel the road while transporting children to nearby Westridge Elementary. The project would cost about $8.3 million and is ranked 20th.

“It’s very hilly, and lots of rises and dips in the road create blind spots,” Collins said. “There certainly needs to be some improvement.”

Creating a turn lane on U.S. 127 near the intersection of KY 1262 and Steel Branch road is ranked 37th on the priority list. The project would cost about $1 million.

Local politicians and state transportation officials negotiated the list in May and will take it to lawmakers in January. It’s unclear which and how many projects will receive funding, Collins said.

“You never know,” he said. “How much federal funding is available, especially in regards to the interstate, makes a huge difference. A lot of it is related to the economy.”

After the list is presented to lawmakers it could also be amended or reorganized.

“It’s called the six-year road plan, but it’s more like a 12- or 18-year road program,” Collins said.

It’s likely the widening of I-64 would be approved in phases, he said.

“Those bridges over the Kentucky River are a huge ticket item,” Collins said.

Some projects that rank low on the list, such as the turn lane at Steel Branch Road, could receive funding because they have a smaller price tag, Collins said.

“Sometimes one that is not nearly as expensive has a better chance of climbing up the ladder than one that is extremely expensive,” he said.

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