FRANKFORT — An Ohio company submitted the low bid of $3.7 million to get a state contract to improve roads near the Kentucky Speedway, the site of a massive traffic tie-up in July.
The state Transportation Cabinet said Monday that the bid by Sunesis Construction Co. of West Chester, Ohio, was $220,183 below the cabinet's estimate for the project. Four other companies also submitted bids, the cabinet said in a news release.
The project will widen sections of Interstate 71 and Ky. 35 in Gallatin County so traffic can flow more quickly and safely into the Speedway's parking areas, which also are being enlarged by owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. In addition, a pedestrian tunnel will be built.
The state agreed to make the investment after Speedway Motorsports took steps to prevent a recurrence of the traffic jam that plagued the track's inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in July. Traffic backed up onto I-71 and other roads for miles, largely because of insufficient parking space and traffic management at the track, the state has said.
In August, Speedway Motorsports bought 143 adjacent acres for parking and contracted with an experienced parking management company.
"The Commonwealth has a compelling interest in maintaining and protecting public mobility and safety at all times and for all occasions, including large sporting events," state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a news release. "Much of the traffic caught in the backup on I-71 the day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race was simply trying to pass through the area. Any backup on a roadway, especially an interstate, is potentially hazardous."
The new project includes improving the I-71 southbound ramp to allow a third lane of right-turn exit traffic onto Ky. 35, which runs past the Speedway. The ramp currently has two right-turn lanes.
In addition, six-tenths of a mile of Ky. 35 will be widened to five lanes with two, full-width shoulders. The pedestrian tunnel, to be installed beneath Ky. 35, will enable race patrons to walk safely from new parking lots to the Speedway complex.