Politics & Government

Beshear's road plan advances major Lexington projects, including New Circle widening

FRANKFORT — Several major road construction projects on key arteries in Lexington — New Circle Road, Leestown Road, Newtown Pike, Todds Road and Clays Mill Road — continue to move forward under the Beshear administration's six-year road plan.

The state road plan for 2014 through 2020 was presented Wednesday to state lawmakers. It calls for nearly $7 billion of state and federal funding for transportation projects across the state.

Brenna Angel, a spokeswoman for Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, said in an email that the state highway plan includes funding for several projects that will improve traffic flow in Lexington.

"These projects are a high priority for the city," she said. "In addition to the necessary improvements to road infrastructure, we are also pleased the highway plan has an emphasis on bike and pedestrian projects."

Angel said priority projects for the Gray administration included the continued extension of Newtown Pike, widening New Circle Road, widening Leestown Road and widening Todds Road. She also mentioned new bike lanes on Southland Drive and around the University of Kentucky campus, sidewalks on Loudon Avenue and extending the Town Branch Trail and Gainesway Trail.

The road project garnering the most money and priority in Fayette County is work on New Circle Road, also known as Ky. 4.

That work, to be completed in fiscal years 2015 to 2018, involves $34.6 million to rehab and widen the road to six lanes from Versailles Road to Leestown Road, about $13 million to reconstruct the Versailles Road interchange and $19.5 million to reconstruct the Newtown Pike interchange and widen the road to six lanes from Georgetown Road to Boardwalk Avenue.

The plan also adds $4.9 million to existing appropriations for widening Leestown road to four lanes from New Circle Road to Masterson Station Park later this year.

The next phase of a long-awaited project to extend Newtown Pike from West Main Street to Limestone also would move forward under Gov. Steve Beshear's plan. It would provide $21.5 million to extend the road, now called Oliver Lewis Way, from Versailles Road to Broadway in 2015. It also would provide $120,000 this year for site grading and utilities for the Nathaniel Mission in the Southend Park Neighborhood, which was impacted by the road project.

The final phase of the Newtown Pike extension project, a $22.9 million extension of the road to Limestone, remains listed in the six-year road plan but is not expected to be funded in the next two-year budget.

Farther out Newtown Pike, the plan calls for $3 million to add a lane from Pintail Drive to I-75 in 2016. Eventually, the state intends to widen Newtown Pike to six lanes from New Circle to I-75, but the six-year plan doesn't include that.

The state plan also proposes spending about $4.6 million in 2015 to widen Clays Mill Road from New Circle Road to Keithshire Way and $9.9 million this year and next to widen Liberty Road/Todds Road from just south of Andover Forest Drive/Forest Hill Drive to I-75.

For Man o' War Boulevard, the plan spends a little more than $2 million to add more turn lanes at intersections with Pink Pigeon Parkway, Alumni Drive and Richmond Road.

The plan also calls for $5 million to upgrade Alumni Drive next year from Nicholasville Road to Tates Creek Road.

Smaller projects listed in the road plan would fund replacement of a bridge at the intersection of Leestown Road and Bracktown Road; add bike lanes on Southland Drive from Rosemont Garden to Nicholasville Road, on Rose Street from Rose Lane to Euclid Avenue, and on University Drive from Cooper Drive to Alumni Drive; add sidewalks on the south side of Loudon Avenue from Newtown Pike to Russell Cave Road; provide $180,000 a year to operate the Valley View Ferry in southern Fayette County, install a section of the Town Branch Trail from New Circle Road to McConnell Springs Park along Old Frankfort Pike; and build a bike and pedestrian trail connecting the Tates Creek school complex to Gainesway Park and Millcreek Elementary.

The state plan initiates studies to plan for the eventual widening of Winchester Road to four lanes from Man o' War Boulevard to the Clark County line and widen New Circle Road from near Newtown Pike to Winchester Road.

Statewide, major proposed state projects in the plan include widening to four lanes and extending the Mountain Parkway from Campton to Prestonsburg, completion of widening to six lanes Interstate 65 between Elizabethtown and Bowling Green, and continuation of the Downtown Crossing bridge and interchange project on the Ohio River in Louisville.

The proposed plan also would provide new bridges across Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, funding to help facilitate the Brent Spence Bridge project in Northern Kentucky and continuation of long-awaited projects to complete the I-69 Corridor in Western Kentucky.

"Our transportation system carries the life blood of our commonwealth," Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release. "Our commerce, economic development, education, community growth — our very quality of life — all depend on a transportation infrastructure that is as modern and safe as we can make it. Our recommended highway plan represents a critical investment in that infrastructure."

The plan is a wish list of sorts that outlines all highway work the state wants to accomplish in the next six years.

The draft plan is often changed by lawmakers. In addition, projects often are not started or completed by the time listed in the plan.