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U.S. 25 expansion delayed to 2011

A section of U.S. 25 will be expanded to four lanes in an effort to relieve congestion and the number of delays, problems that stem from years of increased traffic between Fayette and Scott counties.

The project, which covers a stretch of about 6 miles between Spurr Road and Etter Lane, has been delayed on multiple occasions within the past four years. Now, state transportation officials say the project will not begin until after next year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Several businesses on U.S. 25 in Fayette and Scott counties have been uprooted because of the project, and some business owners weren't pleased about moving or closing before the Games.

John Ellis Jr., who owns Sunshine Grow Shop, said he was contacted in 2005 about moving his store. He moved the store to another site on U.S. 25 into Scott County in 2006.

Officials told him about six months later that the project had been postponed.

"I would have liked to stay in the same location until the equestrian games were over," Ellis said. "All the traffic would have been good for my business."

Ellis said it took years to rebuild his business after the move.

According to cabinet officials, several businesses were offered relocation assistance, including Sunshine Grow Shop, Lexington Road Church of Christ, First Chance Last Chance Liquors and Cheers Bar and Grill.

The relocation isn't viewed as a negative for everyone. It appears to be a good move for Lexington Church of Christ, which is now Oasis Church of Christ on Lemons Mill Road in Georgetown. The first service at the new church was held in July, said elder Parker Shannon.

Shannon said the church wanted to move into a developing area in order to attract families from surrounding homes. So the church was not disappointed about having to relocate because of the construction.

He said this was not the first time the church has moved because of construction. In the mid-1980s, the state moved the church to 1844 Lexington Road in order to create a highway exit to the Toyota plant, Shannon said.

In the last few years, the church has received a couple of notices from the state regarding the project, Shannon said. The church already owned property on Lemons Mill Road and was able to rebuild after the state purchased the old property.

"It seems to be the never-ending project," Shannon said.

Officials initially hoped the expansion project would be completed before the equestrian games in summer 2010, said Bob Nunley, branch manager of project development for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District Seven.

Construction is now expected to begin in 2011 and be completed by fall 2013, Nunley said.

The project is necessary because transportation officials said the road can't carry its current traffic load.

"It's an issue of capacity," Nunley said. "The road can't handle the current traffic, and the project will make it safer and more efficient."

The transportation cabinet said the average daily traffic in 2000 in the middle of the corridor between Spurr Road and Etter Lane was 15,800 vehicles. That number jumped to 18,000 in 2006. The average daily traffic in 2024 is expected to be 25,400, according to transportation officials.

"Georgetown is expanding, and people are commuting back to Lexington," Nunley said.

The project will be completed in two parts. The section of road between Etter Lane and Ironworks Pike will be expanded first and will cost about $13 million, Nunley said. He did not have an estimate for the second half of the project.

Despite Ellis' disappointment about moving the store, he agreed that the stretch of U.S. 25 near his former shop was too narrow.

"Sometimes you have to bow to progress and accept what's being done," he said.