Commonwealth Journal

April 17, 2014

Pulaski gets small share of road money

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Some $200 million worth of road-building projects in Pulaski County during the past decade likely is the reason this county got only a tiny share in the two-year road plan hammered out by the General Assembly during the session that adjourned late Tuesday.

Nonetheless, for Pulaski County a total of $6,709,838 in token I-66 money and three bridge replacement projects is in the 2014-2016 Biennial Highway Construction Plan hassled out moments before gavels rapped to close the 2014 legislative session. The $15.5 million four-laning of the eastern end of Ky. 914 (southeastern bypass), already under contract and about to get under way, is not included in the two-year plan.

A highway construction plan is just that; a plan. Projects often stay in a highway plan for years without being funded. In case of the two-year plan just approved, Gov. Steve Beshear has 10 days from the close of the legislative session to exercise a line-item veto of any project he doesn’t favor. That means the two-year plan could change.

The biggest project for Pulaski County in the just-approved two-year plan is a relatively small amount of money for the proposed section of 1-66 (northern bypass) around Somerset and the selected I-66 corridor from Somerset to I-75 south of London.

Some $3,219,838 for environmental studies along the selected corridor between Somerset and London is in the plan, and $1,470,000 for what the plan calls a “new route for I-66 northern bypass around Somerset.”  The latter apparently means the proposed section from the end of Cumberland Parkway at U.S. 27 some two miles north of Somerset easterly to Ky. 80 at Barnesburg.

“The (Transportation Cabinet) is just putting money in I-66 to keep the project alive,” said Joe Gossage, branch manager for project development, District 8, Kentucky Department of Highways. “It will take mega-millions to build I-66 from Somerset to London.”

The selected route of I-66 from Somerset is through Shopville, Stab and Squib through the Daniel Boone National Forest to I-75 near the weigh station south of London. I-66 is a proposed east-west interstate route from Virginia to California. Parts of the interstate have been built and are in use. Studies have shown some proposed stretches are not feasible.

Congressman Hal Rogers used his influence to get the proposed route through eastern Kentucky to border Somerset on the north. The northern bypass of Somerset (I-66) from Fishing Creek to U.S. 27 is complete. Cumberland Parkway west to I-65 north of Bowling Green is a designated route for I-66.

Bridge replacement projects in the two-year plan are on Ky. 196 over Sputter Creek, 0.757 mile west of Ky. 1664; Ky. 1674 over Big Clifty Creek at Bethlehem Ridge Road; and a bridge on Glade Fork Road over Glade Fork Creek, 0.06 mile south of Jim Weaver Road.

Gossage said the Ky. 196 bridge over Sputter Creek is being designed and right-of-way is being acquired. “Hopefully we’ll be able to let it to contract next year,” he added. Utility relocation is estimated to cost $170,000 and construction $610,000.

Public notice is currently being given that Ky. 1674 will be closed for a period during construction of the bridge over Big Clifty Creek at Bethlehem Ridge Road. Gossage said the bridge will get new beams, new deck and approaches. The bridge abutments are in good shape, he noted. The project is estimated to cost $450,000.

Some discussion is under way about the construction timeframe for the Big Clifty Bridge project, Gossage indicated. “We’re cutting it awfully close to getting it done while schools are out for the summer,” he said.

The $790,000 bridge replacement over Glade Fork Creek is in design phase. Construction is planned for next year.