Commonwealth Journal

April 30, 2014

State delays ‘Mean S Curve’ project

Lawmakers kill realignment funds

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Nancy —

A bridge renovation project in western Pulaski County has been delayed for a year and realignment of a dangerous curve on Ky. 196 west of Nancy has lost priority funding and won’t be done for at least two years.
Letting of a construction contract for a bridge over Big Clifty Creek on Ky. 1674 at Bethlehem Ridge Road has been delayed until January 15, according to Joe Gossage, branch manager for project development, District 8, Kentucky Department of Highways. He said construction will be done during summer 2015, beginning as soon as the Pulaski County School System closes for summer vacation next year. Ky. 1674 will have to be closed for a period during bridge construction. 
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.
There is no money now for realignment of Mean S Curve on Ky. 196 at White Oak Creek. Legislators during the recent General Assembly session, removed priority funding for the project.
Mean S Curve, about a mile and a half west of Nancy, is a dangerous stretch of Ky. 196 leading west out of Nancy through Burnetta and to Faubush.
 Helen Walters and her late husband, Ray, before his death, tried for years to get Mean S. Curve straightened. Helen Walters couldn’t be contacted for this story but she said earlier “ ... It’s a mess ... and dangerous, several people have been killed there.”
“They moved waterlines and light poles when (Paul) Patton was governor,” said Helen. Even pieces of the (new) bridge were delivered, she recalled.” Then they stopped ... we  don’t know why.” 
Gossage said taking priority funding status for the project means “ ... it won’t be done this year or next.”
Specifically, the Transportation Cabinet’s designation of the realignment calls for it to extend from one mile east of Warner Road to three-tenths of a mile west of Sievers Road. Total cost estimated in the six-year plan includes $60,000 for right-of-way acquisition, $180,000 to relocate utilities and $820,000 for construction.
Helen Walters has lived in the area all of her life. The corridor for the realignment project goes through the Walters’ farms at the top of the ridge on the west side of White Oak Creek.
“My grandmother, Lula Combest, donated part of the land for the existing bridge over White Oak Creek,” said Helen. She said the state bought right of way on the other side of the creek from the late Rosa Girkey. Helen Walters owns land on both side of Ky. 196 and lives on the former Girkey farm.
Helen has lived close by all her life. Ray, a native of Casey County, was a retired agriculture teacher. After Helen and Ray married, they moved to another house on the family farm about 1958.
“That (existing) bridge was built in 1939,” said Helen Walters. “I remember when you had to ford the creek.” She said the bottom of the bridge would wash out after a big rain “ ... and they tell me the road near the bridge is not banked right.”
“When its snows it’s really slick,” said Helen.  “We finally got a guardrail ... we’re really proud of that.”
“Emphasizing the efforts and struggles to get the “Mean S Curve” straightened,” Helen said she and Ray contacted governors and politicians for years.
“The moved waterlines and light poles when (Paul) Patton was governor,” said Helen. Even pieces of the (new) bridge were delivered, she recalled.
Picturesque White Oak Creek, obviously named for a type of timber along its banks, has been a landmark in western Pulaski County for more than 200 years. White Oak Baptist Church at Nancy bears the name of the creek.
The White Oak Baptist Church constitution reads as follows: “Be it known that on the 17th of July, 1801 on the waters of White Oak Creek, Pulaski County, Kentucky, there was constituted a United Baptist church by Brothers Thomas Hansford, Thomas Hill, Nathaniel Shrewsbury, Robert Scott, and Eligah Barnes.
Headwaters of both White Oak Creek and Little White Oak Creek are near Cumberland Parkway. The two White Oak creeks and Sputter Branch join near Ky. 761 in the Wildcat Ridge area and flow into Lake Cumberland in the edge of Wayne County.
Ky. 196 forms a “Y” off Ky. 80 at Triangle Restaurant in Nancy and extends west toward Faubush. The entire five miles of narrow, two-lane highway are not up to modern safety standards, but “Mean S Curve” at White Oak Creek is probably the toughest to negotiate.