There were mixed feelings last Thursday as consultants to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet met with the public at the City-County Park Blue Building in an effort to answer any questions or concerns about the final right-of-way plans of the Nicholasville Eastern Bypass.
The $100-million-plus project splits east off U.S. 27 and cuts through approximately 8 miles, running over Ky. 39 and Ky. 169 before reconnecting with U.S. 27. The bypass is projected to be complete by 2017.
The plans filed also show a new interchange at U.S. 27 north, all in an effort to decongest commuter and commercial traffic.
In the process, dozens of homes will be affected either by being acquired by the state or having a four-lane bypass in their backyard.
For some, the bypass is a sign of progress — that Jessamine County is not only growing but focusing on the traffic issues of the county surrounding U.S. 27.
“I think it will bring a lot of people to Nicholasville and make it expand,” Kevin Mashmi said.
Mashmi said that he has not been approached for acquisition of his land as of yet but he expects to be soon since he is in the bypass’s path. His property is in section 1 of 2, or the north side, which includes the new interchange.
The south part of the eastern bypass, or section 2, affects 26 property owners. Only half of those properties have been acquisition so far, said Darrell Trace with HMB Engineering of Frankfort.
Not everyone is as happy about the project.
“Nobody told us about this when we bought our home,” Caleb Brock said. “It would be nice if there was a cul-de-sac or they put up some trees, but they’re not going to.”
Brock said he bought his family’s home on Harlan Drive in 2008 and was taken aback last year when he heard the bypass would be “practically built on their front porch.”
“It is what it is; there’s nothing we can do about it,” Brock said. “This is the second event of this type we’ve been to to try to find out what’s going to happen. Our Realtor told us nothing about this.”
Brock’s wife, Janet, also said she was not happy with the bypass because she feared for her two boys, 3-year-old Hayden and 1-year-old Hudson.
“Our biggest concern is a highway right next to our kids,” she said. “They’ll have to contend with 55-mile-per-hour traffic just to play outside. But we can’t sell it; who wants to buy it now?”
The Brocks said they’d be interested in litigation if they thought it wouldn’t cost a lot or if they thought it would do any good.
“We’ve talked to people in our neighborhood,” Caleb Brock said. “But most of them got their home bought out or were just renters.”
Others in attendance were opposed to the entire idea because of a future plan to use the bypass as a connection for truckers to Interstate 75.
“We hope to, at the very least, get the officials to rethink the path of the I-75 connector,” said Liz Hobson with the Spears Neighborhood Association. “Currently, the plan builds a bridge over the palisades, which are protected and very valuable area, and it would also impact Marble Creek, with rare and engaged wildlife and plants.”
Representing members of the SNA, Hobson said they worry the highway will not only disrupt their lives but destroy the farms and natural beauty of Jessamine County.
Hobson said her group is dedicated to either stoping or changing the proposed I-75 connector and that they see the eastern bypass as paving the way for further land to be destroyed.