Cause for celebration: Improved U.S. 27 a long time coming to Garrard County
Judge-executive John Wilson, State Representative Lonnie Napier and Lancaster Mayor Brenda Powers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for U.S. 27. Napier, who is retiring from his position as state representative for the 36th Representative District, was instrumental in securing the funding for the road construction. (Kendra Peekfirstname.lastname@example.org / December 18, 2012)
“We’re Kentuckians first, and we’re Republicans and Democrats second,” he said. “By doing that, we get a lot of things done.”
The $41 million project, which broke ground in 2008, faced several difficulties, from environmental issues to a negative economy, according to state Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, who also spoke.
After the presentation, Buford explained that during the building process, a fault line was discovered. “Every time we turned around, we were finding reasons to back up and be careful. It was probably one of the most lengthy times for its distance,” he said.
At one point, he explained, the project was slowed in hope of getting federal stimulus money for its construction. However, Buford believed it was worth the wait.
“It’s a pleasure to drive the road, whereas before, it was dangerous, and it was time consuming,” Buford said.
The road is now four lanes from the Camp Nelson Bridge to just south of Camp Dick Robinson Elementary School. Improving the road in Garrard County, which is staunchly Republican, was an important issue to Beshear, who is a Democrat, Buford said. He credits Beshear with pushing through the party lines to help the state.
Garrard County Judge-Executive John Wilson, who also spoke at the event, explained afterward the necessity of the new road.
“We had a number of fatalities. The number of incidents has dropped dramatically. That’s something we don’t want to lose in all of this, that people’s lives have undoubtedly been saved,” he said, explaining that, at one time, there was about a wreck a week on the previous stretch of U.S. 27.
The economic impact was mentioned as well by Wilson, who emphasized that Garrard was the only county in the 6th Congressional District that did not have a four-lane road.
“It strangled our county from any type of real economic development that involves trucking. That’s most of our economy in Kentucky … This enables our county to move forward,” Wilson said.
During the presentation, he shared the previous issues the community has faced in attracting business. “We had a factory looking to come here, and they decided not to come,” he said. “We got them to put it on paper that the reason they would not come here was because our roads were not suitable for their trucks.”
Wilson added that the road project was long overdue.
There is a plan in the works for additional improvements to Ky. 52, beginning in Paint Lick, the contract for which Wilson anticipates will be under review in March.
“That will eliminate the last obstruction between Lancaster and I-75,” he said.
There were more than elected officials present at Monday’s event in the First Southern National Bank Community room. Attendees included individuals who had helped with aspects of the project. The event included community members, too.
Billy Pendleton, who said with a smile that he was probably the only other Democrat in the room, explained that he was happy to attend.
“I try to make a point of going to meet any dignitary, whether they are Republican or Democrat,” he said.
Pendleton lives on a portion of U.S. 27 farther south that has yet to be widened. According to Wilson, that project is moving forward, but construction probably will not be seen for five to six more years.