LANCASTER — Proposed improvements to U.S. 27 in Garrard and Lincoln counties may be years away, but hundreds of residents interested in how the project will impact them and their communities showed up for a hearing Tuesday night to see the latest plans.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s most recent preferred alternative, on display Tuesday during a public hearing at Garrard Middle School, would make U.S. 27 a four-lane, divided highway from the intersection with Ky. 34 at Camp Dick Robinson in Garrard County to the U.S. 150 bypass in Stanford, including creating a western bypass around Lancaster.
Project manager Ananias Calvin III with the Transportation Cabinet’s District 7 office, said the work, estimated to cost about $138 million, would likely be done in three phases starting at Ky. 34 and heading south.
Most of those at the meeting have heard rumblings about widening the road for decades. U.S. 27 north of Somerset to the Lincoln County line already has been built, and work is under way on U.S. 27 in northern Garrard County.
Calvin said some form of planning for the project discussed at Tuesday’s hearing has been in the works since the late 1990s, but surveying and other work have gone on longer than that.
Julian Gander of Stanford was remarkably calm Tuesday night for a man whose house appears to be in the path of the bulldozers.
“If it’s going to be good for everybody else, who am I to complain,” Gander said. “I just want to be as informed as I can be.”
Gander and his family have lived on Ridgeway Drive for the last three years. He hasn’t started shopping for real estate because he has heard the project could be many years in the future and he’s apparently correct.
There currently is no money in the state’s six-year transportation plan for the project. Calvin said acquisition of rights-of-way and relocation of utilities isn’t scheduled to begin until 2019, a timeline that could change depending on what the legislature decides to do.
The project as it’s currently drawn would cause the relocation of at least 25 residences and eight businesses and require the acquisition of about 80 acres of farmland.
Harry Howard’s Garrard County farm would lose about 11 acres, and his neighbor’s home would have to be demolished. Like many on hand, Howard, who has lived in the home he built on the land since the mid 1980s, understands why the road needs to be upgraded.
He built his house on purpose with a large buffer of land from the highway. Tuesday night, he spoke with Calvin at length about decreasing the size of a loop used for highway access that would bring the road hundreds of yards closer to his residence.
The highway project also will impact the eastern portion of Logan-Hubble Memorial Park between Stanford and Lancaster. The state will acquire about 25 acres of the park, which straddles Lincoln and Garrard counties, and 25 acres of the park will be cut off from the existing property.
Jane Vanhook, head of the park board, said the map displayed Tuesday actually is an improvement on past plans that would have taken more of the major use areas and required relocation of numerous residences and businesses. Vanhook said the preferred alternative that engineers now are looking at may actually direct more people into the park, which is frequented by horseback riders and includes pavillions, a lake, access to Dix River and courts for basketball and volleyball.
Calvin said the next step for transportation officials is to review the comments received at the hearing and begin work on more detailed plans.