Caltrans Not Shaken By July 6 Earthquake Damage

Highway Promised Nearly 20 Years Ago Still Unfinished

Sat November 03, 2007 - Midwest Edition
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MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) It’s been a long road coming for a promise.

A new four-lane U.S. 68-Ky. 80 highway in southern Kentucky is still moving toward completion — nearly 20 years after it was first promised. A 10-mi. (16 km) strip is slated to open early in November, leaving only 30 unfinished miles (48 km) of the 140-mi. (225 km) highway from Bowling Green to Mayfield.

The road was promised in 1990 by then-Gov. Wallace Wilkinson as a way to make the lake areas in western Kentucky and the region around Mammoth Cave in Bowling Green more accessible to motorists.

Some sections, including 10 mi. from Coldwater to Almo in Calloway County and 20 mi. (32 km) between Marshall and Trigg counties, remain unfinished.

Tim Choate, manager of pre-construction at the district highway office, said grade and drain dirt work is under way from Coldwater to Almo and a paving contract is scheduled to be awarded in February.

Choate said work could be completed by the end of 2008.

The Aurora-Cadiz section will take at least eight to 10 years to complete and will be the most expensive because it involves new bridges over Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, officials said.

The state is in the early stages of designing those bridges, which are expected to cost roughly $100 million each and will compete for federal and state funding with bridges over the Ohio River in Louisville. The Lake Barkley bridge is not scheduled to begin construction until 2010, and Kentucky Lake bridge construction would follow in 2011.

They would take at least four years to complete, officials said.

The bridges are expected to be paid for with a combination of 80 percent federal funds and 20 percent state funds. A decision on the designs is expected in 2008.

Choate said the two additional lanes are not in the current six-year plan, but all right of way has been purchased and utilities have been moved.

State highway officials also are taking a second look at plans for the 7.6-mi. (12 km) section from Lake Barkley to the Cadiz Bypass. Funding for that section isn’t included in the six-year road plan, but it could be added at the legislative session that begins in January.