Jessamine official steadfast in support of I-75 connector road

gkocher1@herald-leader.comSeptember 18, 2013 

The majority of written comments submitted at an April public meeting in Jessamine County were against a proposed connector road from Nicholasville to Interstate 75 in northern Madison County.

But one person who spoke in favor of, and who continues to support, the connector road is Jessamine County Judge-Executive Neal Cassity.

He argues that the lack of direct access between Nicholasville and I-75 hurts Jessamine County's chances of landing more jobs.

Companies seek that direct access to "get their supplies and move their products," Cassity said. Potential employers that look at Jessamine "have mentioned" the desire for improved connectivity, Cassity said.

Wayne Foster, director of the Jessamine County Economic Development Authority, agreed. More often than not, Foster said, communities that are not on interstate highways "don't even get a look" from potential employers looking for a site to built a plant or other facility.

"We would get far more looks if we had that connector," Foster said.

The state Transportation Cabinet says it is considering several options, including a "no build" option. In the meantime, consulting engineers in June identified four possible "zones" that might be suitable routes for the proposed connector.

The zones all start on the as-yet-unbuilt Eastern Bypass that would skirt around Nicholasville's east side. The zones cross the Kentucky River to terminate on Interstate 75 in northern Madison County.

Opposition to the I-75 connector road probably isn't any greater than opposition to the widening of U.S. 68 was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Cassity said. The widened U.S. 68 opened in 2010.

Cassity said he isn't angry with opponents.

"They're all good people," he said. "But they need to understand the future of the people who are going to be in the job market. ... They (today's high school graduates) can't stay (in Jessamine County) and have a decent job, the way things are right now."

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @heraldleader

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