Engineers have made design changes that will shave an estimated $40 million from the cost of widening and expanding the Mountain Parkway, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday.
The original estimated cost of the project was $753 million.
Beshear and the Transportation Cabinet asked people with expertise in road-building to go over the preliminary design in hopes of saving money, according to a news release.
At one spot in Magoffin County, for instance, moving the route away from two creeks will mean not having to build five bridges, saving an estimated $32.5 million, according to the news release.
As design work continues, engineers will try to identify more savings.
State lawmakers approved Beshear's request this year for improvements to the parkway — a longstanding wish of many in Eastern Kentucky.
The road goes from Interstate 64 at Winchester to Salyersville. As part of the project, contractors will widen 30 miles of the highway from two to four lanes and will extend the road 16 miles from Salyersville to Prestonsburg, replacing the existing two-lane route.
When the project is done, there will be a four-lane route across the entire state, according to the news release.
"This particular project will bring almost immeasurable benefits to Eastern Kentucky, not only by opening up the area to more jobs, but in terms of improved safety," Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said in the news release issued from Beshear's office.
Beshear announced the changes in the project at an event in Winchester.
Work is scheduled to start later this year on a 5.5-mile section of the road just west of where it now ends at U.S. 460 and Ky. 114 in Salyersville.