I-75 road plan not a waste of money

June 24, 2013 

H.B. Elkins of Beattyville, a former weekly newspaper editor, works for the state highway department. This column is his personal opinion.

  • At issue: May 13 commentary by Craig N. Carter, "Roads are in decay, why build a new one? I-75 connector would be a waste of money"

Since before my 10th birthday, when I was old enough to read a road map, I've been aware that there are some gaps in Kentucky's transportation system. Even at a young age, it was obvious to me that a modern connection between Richmond/Madison County and Nicholasville/Jessamine County was sorely needed.

I'm glad to see that four decades after my realization, progress is finally being made on this new road.

In his May 13 commentary, Craig N. Carter suggests that the money to be spent on the I-75 connector instead be used on improving existing roads. Really? Which existing road between Richmond and Nicholasville could be sufficiently improved to modern standards?

The shortest route is Ky. 169, which is narrow and curvy in spots. It also crosses the Kentucky River via the Valley View Ferry, which is subject to the vagaries of weather conditions, river levels and mechanical failures.

There are two other major routes to use between Madison and Jessamine counties. One involves going out of your way to the south, through Garrard County on Ky. 1295, on a crooked, narrow and hilly road. The other involves going out of your way to the north, through Lexington and the congested- and signal-infested hell that is the Man o' War Boulevard/Nicholasville Road corridor.

It would be interesting to see Carter's suggestions for improving these routes that would be less costly than the I-75 connector and vastly improve travel times between Richmond and Nicholasville.

The proposed new route would help eliminate congestion in Lexington and also would provide a detour for the Clays Ferry Bridge on I-75, should that span ever be put out of service.

I lived in Winchester during the mid-1990s when a construction accident shut down that bridge, and from my front door I got to see the bumper-to-bumper traffic jam that ensued at the intersection of the Winchester bypass and Boonesboro Road when traffic was detoured.

The I-75 connector would have been a blessing for me during the two-year period my dad lived at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore. I could have driven from Lee County to Richmond and then zipped on over to Jessamine County to visit him in about 90 minutes. As it was, the trip took more than two hours and forced me to go through Lexington.

One other gaping hole I see in Kentucky's transportation system is completing the Bluegrass Parkway from Versailles to I-64, but I can only imagine the opposition that project would garner.

At issue: May 13 commentary by Craig N. Carter, "Roads are in decay, why build a new one? I-75 connector would be a waste of money"

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