RICHMOND — Consulting engineers have identified eight possible "zones" that might be suitable routes for a new connector road from Nicholasville to Interstate 75 in Madison County.
The eight zones were presented Tuesday night to the Citizens' Advisory Committee, a group of public officials and residents from Jessamine, Madison and Fayette counties.
The zones are all within a larger corridor made public last year, and they vary in width from 500 feet to 2,000 feet. An average right of way for a road of this type is 300 feet.
The zones all start at one of two points on the yet-to-be-constructed Eastern Bypass that will eventually skirt Nicholasville's east side, then cross the Kentucky River to terminate at Exit 95, the Boonesboro Road exit off I-75 in northern Madison County.
The zones overlap one another, so when shown together, they look like a writhing cluster of snakes.
The routes will be shown at two public meetings in April. The first will be 5 to 8 p.m. April 11 at East Jessamine Middle School. The second will be 5 to 8 p.m. April 16 at White Hall Elementary School in Madison County.
Public comments, along with feedback from the Citizens' Advisory Committee, will help winnow the eight zones to four sometime this summer; from those four, a preferred route is to be identified next year.
However, John Carr of the engineering firm CDM Smith said a "no build" option will remain available through the current phase of study.
"It could be the preferred alternative," Carr said.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, with approval of the Federal Highway Administration, will decide the final alignment after considering public comments, environmental impacts and cost.
The zones were picked based on information that balances engineering feasibility and social, historic and environmental features.
Some 28 sites in the 26-square-mile corridor are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eleven are in Jessamine County, 16 are in Madison County and one is in Fayette County. They include the Marble Creek, Valley View and White Hall historic districts.
About 10 Jessamine County residents attended the meeting, but only nine of the 27 members of the Citizens' Advisory Committee showed up.
That shows the level of commitment of those residents who oppose the connector road, said Liz Hobson, a Jessamine County member of the committee who opposes the connector.
State officials expressed disappointment that more committee members didn't attend, but they said some elected officials had conflicting meetings. Also, they said the committee members will have opportunities to be briefed on what they missed at four upcoming meetings scheduled for that purpose.
Even if there are no delays, construction of the 13-mile connector road wouldn't start until 2020, and the earliest it would open to traffic would be 2026.
Hobson and others opposing the road say it would ruin sensitive natural and historical sites. To highlight that, Hobson has invited the media to gather Saturday at a Jessamine County site that might be where frontier explorer Daniel Boone erected a cabin in the early 1780s after establishing Boonesborough.
Proponents say the connector road is needed to improve "connectivity" and traffic safety.