An $80 million project will widen parts of New Circle Road in northwest Lexington and create a double-crossover diamond at Leestown Road.
Those changes are part of a project that would alter some of Lexington's major arteries to "reduce traffic congestion and operational deficiencies on New Circle Road" and its interchanges, said Rob Sprague, design section supervisor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Sprague said the project is expected to begin in the fall of 2013 and continue through the summer of 2016.
Lexington council member Tom Blues, who represents the district in which much of the construction will take place, said the plan was presented to council members last week. Blues said he had next to nothing to do with the project, which will be funded through the state.
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The changes would improve traffic flow and reduce accidents, he said.
"The downside is starting sometime next year ... there's going to be a considerable amount of construction in that area," Blues said.
The changes include:
■ In the fall of 2013, New Circle Road will be widened from four lanes to six lanes from just west of Georgetown Road to Versailles Road. The widening project will tie into the recent widening from Newtown Pike to Georgetown Road. There will be a concrete barrier wall in the median. The project will reconstruct railroad bridges and allow for a shared-use trail under the railroad bridge near Town Branch.
■ In the fall of 2014, the Leestown Road interchange will be changed to a double-crossover diamond similar to the interchange on Harrodsburg Road.
■ Reconstruction of the Old Frankfort Pike interchange. Old Frankfort Pike's diamond interchange would remain, but the bridge over New Circle Road and the ramps will be widened. That project is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2014.
■ The Versailles Road interchange will be changed from three loop ramps to two loop ramps with a fly-over ramp for eastbound Versailles Road to northbound New Circle Road in the summer of 2014. This will continue to allow all the "free flow" movement that exists currently but will eliminate the merging and weaving problems between loop ramps, said Sprague.
The reconstruction will be done in phases, Sprague said. He said funding was secured to widen New Circle Road and interchange improvements at Versailles Road and perhaps the Old Frankfort Pike interchange.
Transportation officials will ask for funding for the Leestown Road interchange next year.
Leestown Road between New Circle and Masterson Station Park was already part of a widening project that is scheduled to begin March 2013. The construction cost of that project is approximately $19 million, Sprague said. The total cost is approximately $31 million with the design cost, purchasing the right of way and moving the utilities for construction.
As for the series of changes in the $80 million project, reconstruction work will likely extend through the summer of 2016.
Sprague said transportation officials will keep people informed on expected delays or suggested routes to avoid construction delays.
A public meeting about the reconstruction will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at Leestown Middle School, 2010 Leestown Road. Representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and their consultants will be at the meeting to answer questions.
"There's no doubt that Leestown Road and New Circle Road are fantastically overburdened," Bob Layton, vice-president of the Meadowthorpe Neighborhood Association said Monday.
Layton said he thought the double-crossover diamond interchange was "an interesting concept" but he did not have enough information about it at this point. Layton said he was looking forward to getting more information at the public meeting.
A handful of employees who work along Leestown Road had mixed reactions Monday to news that a double-crossover diamond was planned. Some thought it would help rush-hour congestion. Others questioned whether congestion was bad enough to warrant it.
Joann True, office manager at Leestown Dental Center in the Kroger plaza, told the Herald-Leader that most days she has little trouble getting onto New Circle when she leaves the office at 5 p.m.
The worst gridlock is on New Circle Road near Newtown Pike, she said. She thought the widening project would help improve traffic flow more than a double-crossover diamond.
"I'm usually on New Circle Road very quickly, but them I'm stopped in traffic just as quickly," she said.
Christy Moss, a nurse at Fresenius Medical Care in the same shopping center, said she thought the double-crossover diamond would help. She said she has seen a lot of wrecks caused by drivers failing to yield to people making left turns from Leestown to New Circle.
John Capozziello, a worker at RockTenn box plant on Lisle Industrial Road, also thought it would help. Capozziello said traffic flow has gotten worse in the last five or six years with new developments in the Masterson Station subdivision and shopping centers and apartments around Town Center Drive. Blues said residential and commercial development of the area shows no signs of slowing down.
"What they've built up in this area in the last five or six years is phenomenal," Capozziello said.