Will the state budget include funding to complete an important Kentucky highway project?
It's been in the works for years and focuses on improving safety. The project relocates Highway 641. The new highway will be big enough for tractor-trailer traffic. It would eventually stretch from Marion, Kentucky, to Eddyville. This gives Crittenden County better access to interstates. Back in 2011, ground was broken on a 5.5 mile portion of the project from Marion to Fredonia
School buses use Highway 641, to take dozens of children to school everyday.
"I personally feel like it's an emergency situation," said Crittenden County Board of Education's Transportation official Wayne Winters. He says the highway isn't in good condition and has heavy traffic.
"My fear is we'll have someone hydroplane and hit one of our buses loaded with kids," Winters said.
Judge Executive Perry Newcom says a new highway with more room has been in the works for almost 20 years. He's hoping the state's budget includes funding to complete what's already been started on the project.
"It's been an extremely difficult process. You've got three counties involved and lots of citizens," Newcom said.
Newcom says right now Highway 641 isn't big enough for tractor-trailers carrying products to local businesses to legally drive on.
"It's a huge economic development concern, not only for now, but for the future and any future growth that we might have," Newcom said.
Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the length of this project boils down to a few things.
"Some of it is money. Building roads is a complicated thing. It takes time," Todd said.
Newcom says he'll know the state's budget on Tuesday. He says the state slated $49 million for this phase of the project when it began. He says $39 million have been spent.
Keith Todd says it would cost about $14 million more to pave the two lanes of the new highway.
The new highway was originally supposed to be four lanes, but the state announced last year it would be two. Todd says the portion between Marion and Fredonia won't be completed until sometime in 2017.
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