State releases new U.S. 641 expansion plans

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Reporter- Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist- Mason Watkins

PADUCAH- The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has chosen a new route for U.S. 641 from Fredonia to Eddyville.

According to a release from the Cabinet, after receiving suggestions from area residents at a public meeting in August, KYTC has decided that the route will border the east edge of Fredonia, where it will then follow an abandoned rail line to near the Caldwell-Lyon county Line. It will briefly follow the existing roadway before routing along property lines and state-owned property to reach U.S. 62 near the I-69 interchange east of Eddyville.

The Caldwell-Lyon section is expected to initially be built as a "super two-lane" highway on a four-lane right of way. This will allow for the eventual expansion to four lanes as traffic increases.

KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Mike McGregor and District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn recently discussed the new route with county judge-executives from Caldwell, Crittenden, and Lyon counties.

"This project will be competing for funds, along with all of the other projects that will be submitted to the Kentucky General Assembly in January," McGregor said. "We believe this project is worthy of design funds because it connects with a section that is already under construction."

McGregor said that each of the county officials was given a map of the corridor that can be reviewed by property owners along the route.

"The original path running west of Fredonia would have infringed on a number of environmentally sensitive streams and springs," McGregor said. "This new path makes use of an abandoned rail line to reduce the amount of farmland and homes that need to be taken."

The 5.5 mile Crittenden County section of the project will connect Marion and Fredonia, and is expected to be ready for paving in late 2014. It will also initially be paved as a wide two-lane, with the option of expanding to four lanes. 

The remaining relocation of U.S. 641 from Fredonia to U.S. 62 at Eddyville isn't currently funded in the Cabinet's master highway plan. An updated plan will be presented in January.

The existing $18.5 million grade and drain project in Crittenden County extends from just south of Marion to the northern edge of Fredonia, near the Crittenden-Caldwell county line.

Trucks that are 102 inches wide are currently allowed to travel on the existing U.S. 641 so they can deliver to industries in Crittenden County. Industry leaders have reportedly said a new highway is critical to continued job expansion in area.

The entire 16-mile project is projected to cost about $109 million - $39 million for the Marion-to-Fredonia section and up to $70 million for the 10-mile section from Fredonia to Eddyville.

Maps of the new premiminary plans are available in the Crittenden, Caldwell, and Lyon County Offices.

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