The push to widen the industrial parkway corridor is gaining momentum.
Carter, Greenup and Boyd counties pledged recently to put forth $30,000 each to help widen nearly three miles of highway leading from I-64 to the EastPark Industrial Center and Ashland Community & Technical College. Allen Blair, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Highways District 9, said the commitment by the counties compliments a state-led match of more than $2 million.
Those combined commitments, in turn, make it possible to apply for more than $17 million in federal funding through what is known as a BUILD grant to complete the expansion. The expansion is considered necessary in light of the arrival of Braidy Industries -- a major aluminum alloys company scheduled to begin construction at EastPark.
“We are hoping to do it as quickly as possible to benefit the development,” Blair said.
"That area will see siginificant growth and have a lot of traffic coming in and out -- hundreds of trucks a day...safety is gong to be paramount and you've got to have good logistics for the plant," said Tim Gibbs, chief executive officer of the Ashland Alliance.
The parkway, designated Ky. 67, was built in phases between 1997 and completion in 2003, and the construction plan included grading and preparing the roadbed for two more lanes, which would make it a four-lane divided highway.
Carter County Judge Executive Mike Malone said the Carter County Fiscal Court unanimously approved pledging the $30,000 in support given the potential job growth associated with Braidy and other projected growth in the area.
"We have been so hard up for jobs for so long and we want to make it easier for industry to get in there," Malone said.
Boyd County Judge Executive Steve Towler agreed.
“The three counties that are involved all endorsed the expansion of the Industrial Parkway, and when that parkway was built, it was done with the understructure for the other two lanes there in mind,” Towler said.