GLASGOW – Government leaders in Barren County have composed a list of eight state highway improvement projects as part of the Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow Program.
SHIFT is a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet program that prioritizes state highway improvement projects based on transportation funds and is the first step taken in getting those projects included in the state’s six-year highway plan.
The state highway improvement projects are ranked according to importance in each of the 10 counties making up the Barren River Area Development District.
Nate Heisler, regional transportation planner for BRADD, said BRADD works with mayors and judge-executives in each of the 10 counties to develop the state highway improvement project lists. Other local officials, such as police and fire chiefs, emergency management directors and planning and zoning directors, are invited to weigh in on the projects, as well as state representatives.
They start with each county’s list from the previous year, taking into consideration criteria such as safety and economic issues.
“If we need to make any changes, or if we need to add any projects, then we will do that. Since most of the mayors and judge-executives are the same from last year, a lot of the projects are staying the same,” he said.
Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale said the group that works on the state highway improvement project list looks at several different things when ranking the projects.
“No. 1 is agriculture. Where within the county is there a lot of heavy traffic due to agricultural needs? Things that may need to be fixed, such as maybe a bridge or an underground culvert or something along those lines. We also focus on industry that could be expanding that may need infrastructure needs such as entrances, turning lanes or bridges widened,” he said.
The top project for Barren County is one that calls for reducing congestion and increasing mobility along Ky. 1297 from Donnelley Drive to U.S. 31-E. It also calls for major widening from Donnelley Drive to U.S. 68/Ky. 80 in Glasgow.
“Widening it will give us more mobility for the turning lane, which was necessary for Donnelley and it will be necessary for anybody in that building,” Glasgow Mayor Harold Armstrong said. “I think it’s mainly for the overall traffic congestion from the railroad tracks back to the light.”
While it appeared on the list for Barren County in 2020, it was ranked third.
“That has to do with the growth of that area out there from housing to industry. I think that’s been a project for several years now that really hasn’t been moved up on the list,” Hale said.
Traffic in the area increased with the location of Red Cross Elementary School, he said.
The school relocated to the area in 1999 from its previous location outside the city limits along Ky. 1297.
“Having community input was really important, such as the police chief, fire chief, planning and zoning and people like that,” Hale said.
The second project on the list calls for improved safety and mobility along Ky. 90 east of Glasgow from the bridge over Fallen Timber Creek to the Metcalfe County line and will involve reconstruction.
“There were a couple of Ky. 90 projects last year. The top two projects from last year were on Ky. 90, but I believe we just repositioned the second project from this year to cover more ground,” Heisler said. “So, it’s almost like a combination of the first two from last year and we made it one.”
The third and fourth projects on the list involve the section of Ky. 90 from Glasgow to Cave City.
The third project calls for reducing congestion and increasing mobility along Ky. 90 between Estes Road in Cave City to the Veterans Outer Loop in Glasgow and involves major widening.
The fourth one calls for improved safety and mobility along Ky. 90 with major widening, but from Sanders Street and Estes Road in Cave City.
“That’s just a corridor that is heavily traveled,” said Cave City Mayor Dwayne Hatcher, talking about the projects along Ky. 90 west of Glasgow. “That entire project goes from Sanders Street to the Outer Loop, but they’ve broken it into two projects.”
The fifth project involves improving safety and mobility issues related to deficiencies along U.S. 68/Ky. 80 from Highland Glen Industrial Park to Ky. 2189 and involves reconstruction.
The sixth project calls for improved safety and mobility with spot improvements along Ky. 249 near Trojan Trail from mile post 15.47 to mile post 15.65.
The seventh project on the list involves major widening to reduce congestion and increase mobility along U.S. 31-E from Aberdeen Drive to Trojan Trail, and includes reconstruction of the interchange with the Louie B. Nunn Parkway.
“That to me is not any more important to the one we’ve had on the books for seven to eight years, which is Ky. 1297. We were going to put a sidewalk out there. There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 families within three or four blocks and there is no sidewalk,” Armstrong said.
The city proposed to install a sidewalk along Ky. 1297 near Red Cross Elementary about eight to 10 years ago, but the project was turned down by state officials.
“That’s been our priority for at least seven years. Every time something comes up it gets pushed back and pushed back,” he said.
The city has extended its transit system to that area with hopes of relieving some of the safety concerns in that area, but Armstrong said the transit stop is not being used as much as it should be.
The last project on the list calls for improving mobility on Ky. 249 from the proposed interchange to South Lewis Street in Glasgow and involves minor widening, which is actually a bridge project.
“Several years ago, the state gave the county a hundred-some thousand dollars to redo that bridge. It was never done. We have asked, because of the safety (issues) ... that bridge be widened,” Armstrong said.
With Span Tech relocating to the former Sitel building, which is located near the Ky. 249 and Trojan Trail intersection, he said the bridge needs to be widened so it can handle the additional traffic that is likely to occur.
“All of these projects are essential, but some of them are not a state of emergency. I think the bridge project on Ky. 249 could be considered a state of emergency,” Armstrong said. “The one out there on U.S. 68/Ky. 80 below Highland Glen, that’s an economic development situation that needs to be done. The secretary of Transportation, Mr. (Jim) Gray, has been so hard working to get that and he’s got that worked out.”
Armstrong said there will be several million dollars invested in the new industrial park, the South Cooper Industrial Park along U.S. 68/Ky. 80, and that there will be a lot of jobs available because of the economic development.
“But it’s the type of thing to where we’ve got it approved and it needs to be done just as well as some of these others. I have a high priority for the safety issues,” he said. “I want to have economic development out the gazoo, but if we have to pick between this one happening this year and this one happening in 14 or 15 months down the road, I’m going to take the safety issues first.”