Politics & Government

Big changes planned for three Lexington roads. How will it affect your commute?

A view of the two-lane section of Clays Mill Road from near Blue Ash Drive looking south toward Lane Allen Road in Lexington. Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed two-year road plan includes funding to add a center turning lane, right turn lanes and bike lanes to Clays Mill from Harrodsburg Road to New Circle Road.
A view of the two-lane section of Clays Mill Road from near Blue Ash Drive looking south toward Lane Allen Road in Lexington. Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed two-year road plan includes funding to add a center turning lane, right turn lanes and bike lanes to Clays Mill from Harrodsburg Road to New Circle Road. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has proposed spending $55 million to widen portions of three major roads in Lexington over the next two years: New Circle Road, Newtown Pike and Clays Mill Road.

Fayette County is scheduled to get $126 million in federal and state funding to build, widen and maintain roads in the proposed two-year Road Fund budget. Lawmakers will consider the proposal as they craft their own road-funding plan.

Traffic implications from the proposed projects could start as early as this spring, when the Kentucky Department of Transportation plans to start building a new bridge on Newtown Pike over New Circle Road. During most of that construction, inbound traffic on Newtown Pike will be limited to just one lane.

Reconstruction of Newtown Pike’s intersection with New Circle Road is part of a larger $32.3 million project to widen New Circle Road to six lanes between Georgetown Road and Boardwalk Avenue in 2018 and 2019.

In 2020, the state plans to widen Newtown Pike to six lanes from New Circle Road to Interstate 75 at a cost of $9.95 million. Plans include a possible sidewalk or shared-use path on the east side of the road. During construction, officials hope to reduce traffic to one lane on each side at night but keep all four existing lanes open during the day.

On the south side of Lexington, Bevin’s plan would spend $12.9 million to widen Clays Mill Road from Harrodsburg Road to New Circle Road in 2019. Plans call for a middle turn lane and bicycle lanes on the entire route, with right-turn lanes at major intersections. An extra traffic lane would be added at Pasadena Drive and Rosemont Garden, making the road at least five lanes wide at those points. The portion of Clays Mill outside New Circle already has been widened.

Lexington Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe said the widening project will make the entire Clays Mill corridor safer for motorists and pedestrians alike.

“It’s one of the major arterial now from downtown to the suburbs,” Bledsoe said. “There’s also a number of schools that are either on Clays Mill or near Clays Mill Road. But more importantly, it will improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, which is a big concern with so many schools in that area. There will be new sidewalks down the entire stretch of Clays Mill once it is completed.”

In addition to widening projects, Bevin’s road plan includes $19.5 million to repave portions of interstates 64 and 75, and $1.6 million to complete the construction of Polo Club Boulevard between Deerhaven Lane and Todds Road later this year.

Finishing Polo Club Boulevard will help the city cope with development in the area, said Derek Paulsen, the city’s commissioner of planning, preservation and development.

“There’s just a tremendous amount of new growth out there,” Paulsen said.

State Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, said she feels good about the proposed road plan for Lexington.

“We’ve got some really good projects going on and some things that will make life easier in Fayette County for a lot of people,” Forgy Kerr said. “We just have to hope they are still in the road plan” when lawmakers finalize it in April.

State Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, said she was pleasantly surprised at the amount of projects proposed in Lexington.

“I’m noticing that most of the top projects in the road fund are benefiting urban areas,” Flood said. “I was pleased to see that and look forward to working with House and Senate leadership.”

The road plan includes $2.8 million for the early stages of a proposed widening of New Circle from Leestown Road to near Georgetown Road, but that money would be used to buy rights-of-way and move utilities. No money is proposed for construction.

Other big-ticket projects that failed to get funding in the road plan include a proposed $40.5 million widening of Georgetown Road from Spurr Road to near the Scott County line, and a $14.8 million widening of New Circle from Trade Center Drive to Woodhill Drive.

A new section of Oliver Lewis Way, also known as the Newtown Pike extension project, links Versailles Road and South Broadway. It opened Friday, Sept. 22.

Reporter Beth Musgrave contributed to this story.

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