Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three roads in Webster on state road plan budget

J-E News Editor
The biennial state road plan promises over $23.5 million dollars for three road improvements projects  in Webster County over the next two fiscal years Although that plan is not officials yet, it has now been approved by both the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Senate and is headed to conference committee between House and Senate.
Topping the list of improvements at a total of $11,560,000 is a proposed redesign of US 41A between Providence and Dixon.

“The widening and reconstruction of US 41A between Dixon and Providence has been in the road plan since 2002,” said Keith Todd, Public Information Officer for District One and Two of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.  “It has SPP funding for design.  However, that funding designation is an “if available” funding category.  Design could start on this project if more reliable funding is made available in the new road plan being considered by the General Assembly.”
Judge Executive Jim Townsend this project is something that has been discussed for years, but has never gotten done.
“My hope is that they will turn US 41A into a ‘Super Two’,” he said. A Super Two is a two lane highway that is wide with hard shoulders sturdy enough to allow a vehicle with problems to safely pull off of the roadway. On occasion Super Twos also have turning lanes if there is a particularly busy intersection.
The second expensive of the three projects is upgrades to the Sebree interchange of the Pennyrile Parkway which must be completed before I-69 shielding can take place. The Sebree interchange was originally a toll exit for the parkway, which opening in October 1969. Both the exit and on ramps at the location are narrow and sharp, but Interstate standards require ramps to be long and straight enough to allow vehicles to enter and exit the parkway at 70 mph.
“The Sebree Interchange’s upgrade to current standards for I-69 is on track for bidding this year,” said Todd. “This is one of about 10 major projects we have scheduled over the next two years to help obtain approval to extend I-69 up the Pennyrile Parkway to Henderson.”
According to the state road plan, the Sebree improvements alone will cost about $10,400,000.
Also on the road plan is an upgrade to Highway 138 in Slaughters. The proposed project would raise the road bed between the CSX railroad crossing and the city of Slaughters itself with the intention of bringing the road above flood level.
“Improvements to reduce the flooding of KY 138 and KY 120 in Slaughters have been in the road plan since 2012,” said Todd. “If design money is available in the new road plan we will move ahead on planning and design.”
But, according to Todd, that is a big if. He said the average road project appears on the state budget for eight and a half years before it gets the funding needed to finish the job. It seems unlikely that this project would get the funding it needs after only two years, especially with other projects such as I-69 being fast tracked.
“That’s the project that most needs to be done,” Townsend said. “I am praying that they do it. Every governor we’ve had since I’ve been in county government has come to Webster County and promised that they would fix that road. There is really no reason that it hasn’t been done yet.”
Judge Townsend estimated that it would only cost around $150,000, a great deal less than the $1.5 million the state is budgeting for the job.