Construction began Monday night on a project intended to alleviate congestion at the Harrodsburg and New Circle Road interchange in Lexington.
The work will be done mostly at night — from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Crews might work on weekends as well. During those times, lanes will be closed in both directions, but one lane will always be open, according to a news release from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Signs will direct motorists.
The project also will require some New Circle Road ramp closings, although the schedule for that work was not available Monday.
Construction should be complete by Nov. 15.
The project is the first in the state and one of only a handful in the nation that uses what's known as a double crossover diamond or diverging diamond design, which has motorists crossing over and driving on the left side of the road.
One of the primary goals is to increase the through capacity on Harrodsburg Road between Pasadena and Corporate drives, which is traveled by more than 35,000 vehicles each day.
The cabinet says it also will improve left turns onto and off of New Circle by eliminating turns that have drivers crossing in front of oncoming traffic.
The stretch of Harrodsburg Road included in the project has the highest crash rate of any major artery in the city, Robert Nunley, branch manager for project development for the Transportation Cabinet, has said, and the hope is the new configuration will improve that.
Nunley said the configuration also will save money because it uses much of the existing infrastructure, including the New Circle Road overpasses. The project will cost an estimated $5.5 million, as opposed to the $15 million or $20 million it would cost to rebuild the interchange completely, Nunley has said.
Several commuters said Monday they think a few months of inconvenience pales in comparison to the improvement they hope the changes will bring about in the long run.
"It needs something to improve the traffic flow," said Robert Bailey, who drives Harrodsburg Road daily.
"I actually don't think it's a big deal," said Ken Ouellette, who lives nearby and was gassing up at the Speedway in Beaumont Centre late Monday afternoon. "I think it's worth it."