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MADISONVILLE (10/17/13) — Kentucky Transportation District 2 Engineer Kevin McClearn presented an update to projects around Kentucky during a recent Madisonville Rotary Club meeting.

McClearn told the Rotarians that Kentucky spends almost $1 billion each year on roads and highways (maintenance, upgrades and new projects) with a major portion of it in District 2. The District has the most roads (3,300 miles), the most four-lane roads, the most bridges, the most employees (270) and the fourth largest population.

McClearn said that he is working on placement of I-69 shields as quickly as possible. He has five current projects ongoing to get the roadways up to interstate standards, he said.

“We have 38 miles of the old Western Kentucky Parkway from old MP 0 to MP 38 designated as I-69…at a cost about $10 million,” said McClearn. “And, with I-24, another 17 miles of I-69 is official.”

The I-69 transition at the WKP to Pennyrile Parkway “will be a transportation feature you don’t see in Hopkins County very often,” he said referring to the engineering rendering in the photo.

The “Design Build” is unique and a quicker process, said McClearn. He expects to see action on it next spring. Drivers will be able to negotiate the turn without using the current ramps and cloverleaf.

“You will be able to make the turn from either direction at 70 miles per hour,” said McClearn.

Other improvements planned next spring include the Pennyrile Parkway to Henderson and the Mortons Gap interchange will see a total rebuild, he said.

 “This will be a large undertaking and will be late in 2014 before the project will be let,” he said.

McClearn said putting up the I69 shields will increase visibility for Madisonville.

“Total cost for I-69 in Kentucky will be $146,000,000,” he said. “The goal is to get the I-69 shields up and Madisonville can advertise that we are now on an interstate.”

The number does not include a bridge near Henderson. McClearn estimates the Ohio River Bridge for I-69 to be $1 billon. Other estimates have been as high as 1.4 billion, he said, and suggested that tolls may be necessary to fund bonds to build the Ohio Bridge.

McClearn said an upgrade to U.S. 41A is moving forward and is in the right-of-way acquisition phase. Right-of-way will proceed from East (McDonalds) to West (past GE) with the project being built in two phases with eastern section right-of-way acquisition to be completed in 2014. Construction may begin in 2015 as a target date for phase I. The eastern section will be five lanes with curb and gutter. Beyond Lake Peewee the road will be three lanes, he said.

Kentucky 70 at Hucks is a quarter-mile project and the bridge will likely be replaced, said McClearn.

North Main Street from Hospital Drive to McDonald's is in the Highway Plan to be widened, however, funding has not been budgeted, he said.

College Drive is designed with right of way purchased and utilities are being moved. Funding for the project has been allocated and as soon as approved, construction is expected to begin, he said.

McClearn said a connector road from East Center Street to Island Ford Road is not in the Department of Transportation highway plan yet. The connector would skirt the Ershig property.

“We will have to see if it shows up in the highway plan,” he said. “ If they give us the money (the state), we will build.”
I-24 construction at the Tennessee line is almost complete, said McClearn.

“Who has made the comment ‘I can tell we are back in Kentucky’?” he asked the group. “We did move the line where it changes from asphalt to concrete – we moved it off the state line. That will be north of the rest stop.”

In regard to other projects, McClearn said he expects Badgett Loop Bridge to be completed this year.

“We had hoped to finish by Halloween but it may be as late as December,” he said.

Other statistics shared by McClearn included: Kentucky has suffered 509 highway fatalities this year. This is 69 less than last year. Owensboro Blue Bridge cost $10 million to paint and must be painted every 25 years.

Ron Sanders
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