NICHOLASVILLE — Like many Central Kentucky drives, two-lane Brannon Road in northern Jessamine County rises and dips with the land. It is a narrow road that doesn't leave much margin of error for drivers — as the scars on some trees can attest.
Come Thursday, citizens who want to share their ideas on how the 3-mile-long road between U.S. 68 and U.S. 27 could be made safer will get their chance.
The state Transportation Cabinet has scheduled a meeting at Southland Christian Church to let residents air what they see as problems, and what can be done about them, said Joshua Samples, a state engineer who is the project director overseeing Brannon Road improvements.
"It's easy for us as engineers to say what we think is the fix," Samples said. "But at this point we really don't know what is going to be involved other than there are definitely some safety improvements we need to do. Whether that involves realigning the roadway or just creating more space on the shoulders, that's all to be determined."
Those who attend the meeting will be handed a questionnaire asking how often — and why — they travel the road, said Rick Nunnery, a principal with EA Partners, the consulting firm working with the state.
"We will try to garner their opinions on what they see as the safety problems they see along the corridor," Nunnery said.
"We're coming in with an open slate on everything," he said. "Nothing has been decided. ... All we're going to do is try to get the opinions of the people who know the corridor the best from what they see."
Brannon Road traces its beginning to 1879, when citizens petitioned Jessamine County Court (a predecessor to today's Jessamine Fiscal Court) to open a road from Providence Depot (near today's Norfolk Southern railroad track) to Clays Mill Road, according to a 1993 history of the road written by Billy Jackson Bower. (Bower died in 2006 at age 86.)
The new road was reported ready for use in November 1882.
"In the late 1920s, I rode my pony along its narrow path many a day," Bower wrote in the introduction. "I fell out of mother's Nash touring car onto it, coming home from Providence Church one Sunday. I helped my father drive cattle on it from one farm to another."
Much has changed since then. The road is heavily traveled, whether people are going to Southland Christian Church or other houses of worship, or are headed to Brannon Crossing, the shopping center that grew on the east side of U.S. 27. If vehicles are detoured onto Brannon because of an accident on U.S. 68, the bumper-to-bumper traffic can be significant.
Average daily traffic figures were being pulled together last week for Thursday's meeting. Data regarding traffic crashes along the road will be presented on displays.
After this meeting, alternatives for safety improvements will be developed and fine-tuned for presentation at another public meeting, Samples said.
"We'll have alternates to show the public sometime next year," he said.
The state has budgeted $2 million to design improvements to the road.
The purchase of rights-of-way, expected to cost $7.5 million, is scheduled for 2016. Utilities relocation, estimated to cost $5 million, will be done in 2017. And construction, estimated at $12 million, will begin in 2018, Samples said.
The state Transportation Cabinet plans to put up a Facebook page devoted to the project so people can keep up with its progress.
"The main thing we can all agree on is that something needs to be done to improve the road," Samples said.
Public meeting about Brannon Road
When: 5 to 7 p.m. June 20 (presentations at 5 and 6 p.m.)
Where: Building F, Southland Christian Church, 5001 Harrodsburg Rd.
Purpose: To solicit public comments on needed improvements