Nearly four years after state and local officials broke ground on the project in September 2007, work continues on the widening of a 5-mile section of U.S. 27 in northern Garrard County.
Heavy equipment rumbles near Bryantsville as the two-lane road is widened to four lanes from Rocky Top to just south of Ky. 34. Construction costs amount to about $39 million of the $56 million project.
At the end of June, the project was 65 percent complete, said Matt Simpson, an engineer over maintenance and construction in eight counties of the 12-county area covered by the state Department of Highways' District 7 Office in Lexington.
In December, a two-lane portion of the new road opened to traffic. That runs from near Sutton Lane to just north of Ky. 152.
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Before the end of the year, four lanes are expected to be open from Rocky Top to Ky. 1355. The southern end of the project won't be finished until the spring or early summer of 2012, Simpson said.
The delay is due to the relocation of a buried AT&T fiber-optic cable on the southern end of the project. The line was buried on a private easement and not on a public right-of-way, Simpson said.
The Garrard project is a design/build project, which means that different phases, such as design and construction, continue simultaneously. Most highway projects go through a design/bid/build process, in which design work is completed before a construction contract is awarded.
Design/build brings the project designers and construction contractors together to expedite highway improvement. More than 30 states have used that methodology.
Transportation Cabinet officials think the design/build process helped to complete portions of the project faster than usual, Simpson said. For example, the middle section of the new road around Bryantsville, which was the most accident-prone area, was finished more quickly, he said.
The daily traffic count for U.S. 27 in 2007 — when the contract for the project was awarded to Allen Co., HMB Professional Engineers and GRW Engineers — was 18,500 vehicles a day. Traffic is projected to reach 37,000 vehicles a day by 2028.
A second project to widen U.S. 27 from Ky. 34 to the U.S. 150 Bypass in Stanford is planned.