Construction to widen U.S. 60 between Ky. 180 and I-64 is at least several years away, but work is already under way on relocating the Colvin Calvin Cemetery.
The cemetery, located on the southern side of the roadway near its intersection with Ky. 180, contains remains of approximately 150. Many of the grave sites are unmarked and date to the early 1800s, Transportation Cabinet officials said Tuesday.
The age of the cemetery has made it difficult for officials to locate living relatives of those buried at Colvin Calvin, spurring transportation officials to approach the Boyd County Fiscal Court to sign off on the planned relocations. The court approved the request Tuesday.
Robyn Ramey, a right-way-agent with the Cabinet, said to date, only three family members have contacted officials about the planned relocation. Anyone with relatives at the Colvin Calvin Cemetery is encouraged to call the Cabinet at (800) 817-2551, ext. 278.
The next of kin reached have requested all remains be moved to the same location, said Ramey. She said the state is considering Golden Oaks Memorial Gardens in Catlettsburg among others possible sites. Under state law, when a cemetery is relocated remains must be placed in another perpetual care cemetery.
Preliminary work before the remains are actually moved is now under way, according to Danny Mineer, the right-of-way supervisor. He said last week the cemetery was surveyed and many unmarked graves were located and flagged.
When the move is done the land will first be stripped, but grave sites will be dug by hand. Remains, including those of unmarked sites, will be placed in containers and moved to new locations. Tombstones for unmarked graves will be erected at the new site and will include the name of the cemetery they were relocated from.
Ramey said the remains in the cemetery are so old archaeologists plan to study 30 sets of remains after they are exhumed. The remains will then be laid to rest at the new location.
The relocation is one of several anticipated right-of-way projects that will take place along the roadway as plans to widen the highway move forward, said Allen Blair, a spokesman for the state highway department.
Blair said the widening project is just now entering its final design phase. “We know there are going to be impacts on some property regardless of how the final alignment adds up. It’s basically along the existing right of way,” he said.
The state has begun purchasing other properties and additional property could be needed, said Blair. “As the project progresses we will get into the full right-of-way process, anyone impacted by the roadway will be contacted,” he said.
Blair said the stretch of U.S. 60 roadway between I-64 exit 181 and the intersection of Ky. 180 is traveled by 10,500 to 13,500 vehicles daily. Although designs are not complete, engineers plan to widen the roadway to “relieve congestion and improve safety,” said Blair.