VERSAILLES — The second in a series of meetings to solicit public comments about a proposed bypass around Versailles will be held Tuesday.
The road, formally called the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor, would extend Falling Springs Boulevard around the west side of Versailles to U.S. 60, near the Midway Road (U.S. 62) intersection north of town.
Some say the bypass is needed to alleviate traffic congestion in the Woodford County seat's downtown. Others say the road is not necessary and will funnel big trucks onto two-lane U.S. 62 and into Midway.
Citizens who attend the meeting will see three proposed routes or "alignments" and the properties they would cross, said Rob Sprague, project engineer with the state Department of Highways' District 7 office in Lexington.
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A citizens advisory committee initially looked at five alternatives but winnowed the number to three. The purpose of Tuesday's meeting is an attempt to get a consensus on a public preference for one alternative.
After Tuesday's meeting, the citizens advisory committee will meet later this year to make its recommendation on a route, Sprague said. Then a project team at the District 7 office will make a recommendation, Sprague said.
The idea for the bypass has riled people since it was proposed in 1999. The Corridor Study Group, an alliance of people concerned about the proposed road, questions the need for the bypass and said in a February letter to the advisory committee that it would have "little significant impact on mobility through downtown Versailles."
Sprague said numbers from a downtown traffic count were plugged into a computer model to show that the bypass would relieve downtown congestion.
"By looking at those numbers, you could tell that downtown needed some relief," he said. "It's close to capacity now."
The Corridor Study Group also said there was a probability of increased traffic and reduced safety on U.S. 62, a narrow, tree-lined artery.
"Whether we build this project or not, there's a probability that traffic will increase on 62, and the more cars you have on a route, the more likely" that accidents will increase, Sprague said.
"Our traffic forecast showed a slight increase in the traffic" on Midway Road, Sprague said. But he asserted that if the road was built, "the overall likelihood of accidents in Woodford County would go down."
"When people are farther away from the maximum capacity of a roadway, that's when you have better overall accident rates" for the county, he said.
The current six-year highway plan includes $2 million for design of the road, $5 million for purchase of rights-of-way, $2 million for utilities relocation and $30 million for construction.
The three alternatives to be presented Tuesday range in total cost from $27 million to $32 million, according to the state Transportation Cabinet.
No federal money would be used in the Versailles project. It wold be funded only with state money.
People attending the Tuesday meeting will be asked to fill out a survey form. The form asks them to select a preferred alternative. It also asks, "Would you like to see an alignment that is some combination of the alternatives presented?"
The survey also asks "Do you have any concerns with the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor project?"
The last meeting seeking public input on the proposed road was in October 2014.