After being on hold for several years, the proposed eastern bypass project in Nicholasville is moving forward once again.
State officials and representatives of the firms doing the work met with property owners affected by the project Thursday night to discuss final right-of-way plans.
The project is now estimated to cost $111 million and covers about 7.8 miles. The four-lane road will start roughly at the U.S. 27 Bypass, cross Ky. 169 and Ky. 39, then connect to U.S. 27 South. The plan includes an interchange at U.S. 27 North.
If everything falls into place as planned, the project could be completed by 2017, officials said. While funding is now available for part of the project, the Kentucky General Assembly will have to approve funding for the rest of it.
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More than 60 people, most of them owners of some of the 100 parcels of land affected by the project, lined up at City/County Park to talk to state officials and others involved in the plan about what the property owners can expect.
"I've been waiting for 13 years to get some closure," said Barbara Olive of Williamson, W.Va. Her father, Baptist minister and Eastern Kentucky coal operator John Preece, in his will, left her and her five sisters a large tract of farmland that will be affected by the new road. "It's going to cut the farm in two," she said. The state is taking 34 acres of the tract for the new road, she said.
"I'm happy and I'm sad," she said. "This was his (John Preece's) enjoyment. He loved this place."
Preece donated part of his land for East Jessamine High School several years ago. So, the land has already lost some of the serenity it once had, Olive said.
John Nickell, who lives on Sulphur Well Road, said that, initially, the project did not involve his property, but now the state plans to take 1,500 square feet of his front yard.
"They're going to do exactly what they want to do," he said. "I'm not worrying over it; there's no use."
Rob Sprague of the state Transportation Cabinet, the project's manager, said the cabinet has been diligent in keeping affected property owners up-to-date on the new road plan. One property owner, Bluegrass Energy, has been particularly concerned about its impact on the company's operations, he said.
"We've had several meetings with Bluegrass Energy," he said.
The project is divided into two phases.
Ben Edelen, vice president of HDR Engineering Inc. in Lexington, said his firm will be handling the first phase, which extends from Ky. 39 north to the U.S. 27 Bypass and includes the interchange. The phase, which covers about 4.8 miles, is expected to cost $83 million.
He said construction on the first phase more than likely will start in 2015 and take a minimum of two years to complete.
Sprague said the second phase, from Ky. 39 to U.S. 27 South, is scheduled to start at the same time, but might not because of funding. He said the second section of roadway will take a minimum of a year to complete. The second phase covers about three miles and is projected to cost $28 million.
Bob Walling of CDP Engineers in Lexington, the firm handling the second phase in partnership with HMB Engineering of Frankfort, said the state has purchased 11 homes in the Southpoint subdivision for the second phase. The homes, all about 3 years old, were bought for an average of $175,000, he said. The homes have been or are being moved to other lots in the vicinity, he said.