Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 19, 2006

Construction zone

Fletcher, officials to break ground on project

CANNONSBURG — Drills and excavators break ground daily, working toward an improved interstate interchange.

Today, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and local leaders will do the official groundbreaking of the $34 million state project.

Officials will gather at 5 p.m. today at Boyd County High School, just off Ky. 180, for the event.

On hand will be the governor, area legislators — including Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, who’s pushed for years for the work because of high accident rates there — local officials, and representatives of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

“This project has been needed for safety reasons ... for the past 10 to 12 years now,” said Adkins, who has a view of the interchange from his office at Appalachian Fuels. “It’s not unusual to see an accident a week there.”

So, the state recently signed Bizzack Construction of Lexington to revamp it.

Crews will spend several construction seasons — work is expected to take at least two years — reconstructing the roadways and exit ramps where Interstate 64 and Ky. 180 cross just south of Cannonsburg.

It will be turned into a more modern, more easily accessed diamond-pattern interchange that will improve safety and reliability, according to transportation Cabinet officials.

For years, the intersection has been prone to traffic accidents, many of them fatalities.

Studies suggest the danger is having to cross lanes of oncoming traffic. To exit toward Ashland from the interstate, cars must cross from a ramp. Cars accessing the interstate, unless making a right turn, have to do the same.

The new interchange will have exit ramps to help alleviate that problem, according to the Cabinet.

But, safety is not the only reason the project has been studied, Adkins said.

Plans also call for five driving lanes, which will includes a center turn lane and right turn lanes where needed to enhance traffic flow.

Growth from Summit to Flying J on past the interstate, plus the Wal-Mart Supercenter, residences and schools in between, has been tremendous, Adkins said.

At times, traffic is backed up onto the interstate, he said.

“We’re finally getting to a project that is badly needed to correct an extremely hazardous intersection ... that will help traffic flow and future growth as well,” he said.

ALLEN BLAIR can be reached at ablair@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2657.

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