NICHOLASVILLE — Jessamine County Fiscal Court voted 6-0 Tuesday to endorse the completion of a study on a proposed connector road that would run from Nicholasville to Interstate 75 in northern Madison County.
The resolution noted that "there is a need for a safer, more direct route to the interstate highway system for Jessamine County," and "it is the goal of the I-75 connector team to identify constructible, affordable and environmentally sound alternatives that will meet those needs."
The vote was politically sensitive for Magistrate George Dean, who officially announced this week that he is running to succeed Neal Cassity as county judge-executive in next year's election. Many opponents who question the need for the connector road live in Dean's magisterial district.
But Dean said he supports completion of the study and dismissed suggestions that his vote put him in the hot seat.
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The resolution was a largely symbolic gesture because the study will be completed with or without the fiscal court's endorsement.
The state Transportation Cabinet says it is considering several options, including a "no build" option. In the meantime, consulting engineers in June identified four possible routes that might be suitable for the proposed connector.
The routes all start on the as-yet-unbuilt Eastern Bypass that would skirt around Nicholasville's east side. The routes cross the Kentucky River to terminate on I-75 in northern Madison County.
The study's findings won't be known until late summer next year, said Bob Nunley, project manager of the state Transportation Cabinet's Lexington office.
After the vote, fiscal court heard from Ron McBride, an opponent to the road.
"We don't feel it's in the best interests of this county," McBride said. Nevertheless, McBride said the fiscal court "has taken a step that's very positive to make sure that we have a thorough and objective evaluation of what we may or may not do."
Liz Hobson of Spears, another opponent, said in an interview, "We're all for the study continuing. We want the study to continue."
But she told the fiscal court that opponents "have concerns about who benefits from this road and who is behind it."
Hobson implored the court to "give us a chance to talk with you" about the connector.
Wilmore City Council, Nicholasville City Commission and other local governments have adopted resolutions supporting the road.
Nancy Stone, a member of the Jessamine County Transportation Task Force, said Tuesday's resolution was sought by a steering committee of the task force, which looks at a variety of issues aside from the connector road. The steering committee is composed of elected and appointed officials, Stone said.
"We wanted to make the general public aware that this is a regional project," Stone said. "It will affect Garrard County. It will affect Madison County. We need for the decision-makers to understand, and we felt that (resolution) would be one way to get that point across."