Several local roads and bridges are slated for upgrades or replacement as part of a two-year, $3.5 billion transportation budget passed Friday by the Kentucky House of Representatives.
House Bill 267 will likely see some changes as it works its way through the Senate, where it was received Monday, but many officials said they are pleased with what they’ve seen so far and confident that vital projects will get the necessary funding.
Among the biggest projects in the biennial spending plan is the long anticipated Ky. 33-Ky. 34 connector road that would allow traffic to bypass the northeast side of Danville. The $10.9 million in projected construction costs is included in the 2012 plan.
In January, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Natasha Lacy said the state was awaiting the finalization of right-of-way acquisition and recommending the bidding process for the project start in April. Monday, she said officials in Frankfort are anticipating all land acquisition will be done before a recommended June bidding process.
The project has, in some form, been in the state’s six-year plan since 1996, and many local and state officials have come and gone in the meantime.
Boyle County Rep. Mike Harmon said he is confident things actually will happen this time but noted the project is designated as SP, or a “state construction” project , meaning it is not as high a priority as an SPP, or “state construction high priority project.” Harmon said he will work with Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, to get the priority level raised to ensure work gets started this summer.
There also are high priority project funds allocated to replace the U.S. 68 and U.S. 150 bridge across the Chaplin River in Perryville. The plan includes an earmark of $364,940 for the bridge, which would not cover the entire $600,000 estimated cost of construction.
Perryville Mayor Anne Sleet said fixing or replacing the bridge, particularly the sidewalks, has been one of her top priorities when she has gone to Frankfort the last several years. As the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Perryville approaches this fall, Sleet would like to see the project fully funded and completed as soon as possible so the busy stretch of road for both drivers and pedestrians can be in top condition.
For Mercer County, one of the main projects funded in the budget is replacing Kennedy Bridge, which connects the Mercer and Garrard County sides of Ky. 152 over Herrington Lake.
Transportation Cabinet officials said Monday it is expected to take two construction seasons to complete the project, which includes replacing the bridge and the approaches on both sides. A cabinet representative said the bridge, which was closed for six months in 2009, has “exceeded its economic life and needs to be replaced.”
A public meeting will be held April 3 at Burgin Elementary School for residents to discuss plans for the nearly 90-year-old bridge with representatives from the cabinet. The budget includes $630,000 to begin right-of-way and utility acquisition in 2012 and $8.3 million for construction in 2014.
A number of projects local officials have been pushing for also were funded for Garrard County, including some that have been longtime causes of retiring state Rep. Lonnie Napier, R-Lancaster.
“There are still a lot of hoops to go through, but I am well pleased so far,” said Napier.
The plan has about $1.4 million for the design work to widen U.S. 27 from Ky. 34 all the way to the U.S. 150 bypass in Lincoln County. Napier said he will try to get construction money added to move the project along during the remainder of the session.
There is also money in the budget to reconstruct a traffic circle on the Lancaster Public Square, where U.S. 27 and Ky. 52 intersect. A total of $830,000 is included for design, purchase of rights of way and utilities, and construction in 2012.
Another project Napier has championed is the reconstruction of Ky. 52 from Ky. 954 in Garrard to Wallace Mill Road in the Happy Landing area of Madison County. He said large trucks have a hard time getting through the Paint Lick area because of the road’s condition, and the unreliability of the route has thwarted multiple attempts to attract industry to the area.
The budget includes about $16 million for the project in 2014, but Napier, who decided not to run again this year, hopes bidding for project will at least begin by the time he leaves the post he’s held for more than a quarter of a century.