State to offer three alternatives for improving dangerous 'Y' intersection north of Wilmore

gkocher1@herald-leader.comApril 6, 2014 

  • IF YOU GO

    Public meeting on 'Y' intersection of Ky. 29-U.S. 68

    What: Make comments, get handouts and information on how to modify the intersection north of Wilmore. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet representatives will be available to answer questions.

    When: 5 to 7 p.m. April 8; people may come at any time.

    Where: Wilmore Senior Community Center, Wesley Village, 1125 Lexington Rd., Wilmore.

WILMORE — When people in and around this Jessamine County city of 3,600 talk about the "Y," chances are they're not talking about a place to exercise.

Instead, they're talking about the "Y" intersection where U.S. 68 and Ky. 29 meet north of Wilmore.

It's been a matter of discussion for decades because it's a dangerous spot. Flashing lights warn drivers to be careful, but motorists on Ky. 29 have to crane their necks at a severe left angle to see whether vehicles are approaching from the west.

At a public meeting Tuesday, area residents will be shown three options for improving the intersection. Each would rebuild the intersection into a 90-degree "T" so motorists more easily could see vehicles approaching on U.S. 68, said project manager Ananias Calvin III of the Kentucky Department of Highways' District 7 Office in Lexington.

One alternative would reconfigure Ky. 29 so it would become a four-way intersection with Cardinal Lane, a residential street on the west side of U.S. 68. That would require acquisition of land from the R.J. Corman property so Ky. 29 could hook into U.S. 68 at a 90-degree angle.

Another option would put the T intersection west of the Marathon station. That would mean going across a corner of the 175-acre Roseglade Farm.

The third possibility would go somewhere between the first two, but that would affect the Turfmor Motel behind the Marathon station.

"I can tell you, that one won't be picked because it goes through the motel," Calvin said. "But we wanted to show them what it looked like."

The state Transportation Cabinet discussed reconstructing the intersection 20 years ago, but local opposition put the brakes on that plan.

Some residents at the time said there was nothing wrong with the intersection as it was. Others were concerned that if a road cut through Roseglade Farm, it would lead the way for that greenspace to be zoned for a high-density subdivision. Preservationists argued that was out of character with the surrounding farms and scenic corridor of U.S. 68, which still was a winding, two-lane road through Jessamine County at the time.

Now, U.S. 68 is four lanes from Fayette County to just north of the Y intersection, and more subdivisions have been built in northern Jessamine County.

In 1997, the Wilmore City Council voted to annex Roseglade Farm into the city limits and accepted a development plan for the farm. But Roseglade remains undeveloped, and in the meantime, accidents keep happening at the Y.

From 2000 to 2014, Kentucky State Police data show that there were 54 accidents in the vicinity of the intersection, said Casey Smith, project engineer at the state Department of Highways office. A dozen of those accidents resulted in injuries, he said.

Average daily traffic counts in 2012 showed 5,000 vehicles on Ky. 29 from the intersection south, 4,600 vehicles on U.S. 68 west of the Marathon station, and 9,400 vehicles on U.S. 68 north toward Lexington.

The state's recommended six-year road plan has money for the intersection's reconstruction. The purchase of rights of way will cost $1.5 million; utilities relocation will cost $600,000; and construction will cost $3 million. But the actual construction wouldn't start until late 2015 or early 2016.

Calvin said he wanted to hear what citizens have to say.

"We're seeking comments and concerns," he said. "What would they like for us to do? If they have something other than what we are presenting, I'd like to know that, too. Our purpose is to put in the best alternate that would work for them."

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

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