Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 4, 2013

‘New 32’ plan for Rowan, Elliot advances

Staff report
The Independent

Flemingsburg — In the future, motorists traveling Ky. 32 from Elliottville to Newfoundland will drive a new 12-mile roadway instead of today’s narrow, twisting thoroughfare.

 That’s the preliminary recommended alternative recently proposed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in its ongoing project to improve the important state highway connection between Rowan and Elliott counties.

 If approved by federal authorities, that alternative — specifically Alternative 3 as presented in public meetings — would create a new route north of existing Ky. 32 with straighter, wider travel lanes capable of carrying more traffic and decreasing travel times.

 Of six proposals considered in recent years, Alternative 3 costs the least, impacts the fewest residents living along the existing highway, provides opportunities to reduce environmental impacts and allows for enhancements such as scenic pull-off areas, all factors cited by the public as important during the last five years of planning and design, according to a news release from the Cabinet.

 The Cabinet and engineering consultants are working to complete an environmental assessment of the proposed alternative.

 Upon approval of the assessment by the Federal Highway Administration, there will be a public hearing on the project — likely this spring — after which the second phase of roadway design could begin, the Cabinet said.

The Ky. 32 redesign project began in 2007 with a $300,000 planning study that sought ways to improve the state route from Elliottville in Rowan County to its junction with Ky. 7 at Newfoundland in Elliott County.

Since then, engineers have been analyzing data and have had meetings with local officials, stakeholders and the general public. In November 2009, a summary of planning study findings was published that proposed a mile-wide corridor within which alternative alignments could be developed.

In 2011, the project entered the design phase when the Cabinet awarded URS Corporation a $2.1 million contract to engineer specific highway improvements within that corridor.

 Work included engineering, historical and environmental analysis as well as more public meetings — at least six in the past two years — at which residents, roadway users, elected officials and stakeholders considered six design alternatives that ranged from spot improvements along the existing highway to new roadways to the north or south.

 In November, the project team narrowed its design choice, based on project needs and public input to the preliminary recommended alternative that’s now being advanced.

For more information, or to download maps and read documents about the Ky. 32 redesign,  visit http://transportation.ky.gov/District-9/Pages/KY-32-Project.aspx. Or, visit Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 at http://transportation.ky.gov/district-9 and select the project from the Featured Projects list.