After several years on the drawing board, engineers have identified eight possible zones that may be the route selected for the proposed connector road that will directly link Jessamine County to I-75 in Madison County.
“From our professional judgement, these are the eight zones that would have the least impact on the area,” said Jerry Leslie, project engineer with the Lochner Design Team.
The eight zones will be presented to the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC), made up of 19 public officials and residents from Jessamine, Fayette and Madison counties, on March 26 at Jessamine County Cooperative Extension Office near the fairgrounds. A similar meeting was held in Madison County on March 12.
The eight zones exist in a 13-mile stretch that has been the focus of the project for more than a year.
Jessamine County’s end will connect into the I-75 connector somewhere between Ky. 39 and Ky. 169, Leslie said. The zones will connect in Madison County near exit 95, the Boonesboro Road exit off I-75.
The width of the zones vary, which gives engineers room to work with, Leslie said.
“We varied the width because some of these zones will go over a historical resource or an environmental resource like a wetland,” Leslie said. “If we keep it wide, that gives us the flexibility (for) the design. It gives us some flexibility to shift the roadway around and minimize or avoid impacting certain resources.”
The zones vary in width from 500 feet to 2,000 feet. An average right-of-way for a road of this type is 300 feet, Leslie said.
The public is invited to attend the March 26 CAC meeting, but the meeting isn’t designed for public comment, according to Robert Nunley, branch manager of project development with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
“At these CAC meetings, we’re not trying to shut out the public; in a way, this is sort of like a workshop for the CAC members,” Nunley said.
Two public meetings have been scheduled in April that will allow comments from residents. The first meeting will be from 5-8 p.m. at East Jessamine Middle School on April 11. The second meeting will take place from 5-8 p.m. April 16 at White Hall Elementary School in Madison County.
Moving forward, Leslie said the goal is to whittle down the eight zones to four zones. That process should be completed by June or July, following a series of CAC and the two public meetings.
“Then we can go into a lot more detail and study a preferred alternate,” Leslie said. “We’re looking at this time next year to have the study complete. Through the whole process, we’re going to involve the CAC and hold public meetings.”
Once April’s public meetings are held, the transportation cabinet and Lochner will continue to meet with the CAC to narrow down the zones.
Leslie said the final decision will come from the transportation cabinet and the Federal Highway Adminstration after considering public feedback, environmental impacts and cost.
Nunley also said the no-build option remains on the table.
“We have to carry the no-build option through the entire process,” Nunley said.