The state Senate is expected to vote on the House’s proposed two-year road plan this week, and that means a huge windfall for many Jessamine County road projects, if approved.
In the House’s road plan, Jessamine County would see more than $83 million flow in for 13 separate road projects. State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said road-fund revenue was up 5.4 percent in February and has increased by 7.5 percent during fiscal year 2011.
Damron said safety and the viability of Jessamine County and Kentucky’s future is at stake in getting the road projects completed.
“The reconstruction of Brannon Road from U.S. 68 to U.S. 27 is paramount,” he said. “It’s a project that I’ve wanted to get into the six-year road plan for the last two or three years. It’s a very dangerous road with heavy traffic volume.”
Damron said the “Y” intersection in Wilmore is another area in which the plan “focuses on safety.”
The road projects slated to receive funding under the House plan are:
• The Eastern Nicholasville Bypass — $36.2 million in FY 2012 and $21.8 million in FY 2013;
• The I-75 connector — $11.5 million in FY 2012 and $2.5 million in FY 2013;
• Reconstruction and widening of Brannon Road — $2 million in FY 2012;
• Reconstruction of the "Y" intersection in Wilmore at U.S. 68 and Ky. 29 — $600,000 in FY 2013 and $1.5 million in FY 2014;
• Completion of the Streetscape Project in Nicholasville with the installation of mast arms and new traffic lights — $750,000 in FY 2012;
• Extension of Brannon Road east to Tates Creek Road — $1 million in FY 2013;
• Pedestrian Mall and Streetscape improvements in Wilmore — $2.19 million in FY 2012;
• Wilmore downtown drainage and street improvements — $175,000 in FY 2012 and $275,000 in FY 2013;
• Turn lanes at West Jessamine High School and East Jessamine Middle School — $20,000 in FY 2012;
• Culvert replacement on Ky. 169, west of U.S. 68 — $220,000 in FY 2012;
• Reconstruct Ky. 169 east of Keene — $400,000 in FY 2013 and $2 million in FY 2014.
Damron also said there is funding for Fayette County that would also benefit Jessamine County at the Valley View Ferry.
“There’s $215,000 in the first year for the Valley View Ferry, and another $180,000 next year to help pay for a new cable for the ferry,” he said.
The House’s plan now goes to the Senate, and state Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, feels confident that Jessamine County’s projects won’t fall on the cutting-room floor.
“I believe these projects will remain where they are, and if they are not, then we will restore them in a conference committee,” Buford said. “We are going to try to have a vote on this road plan by Thursday or Friday of this week, then we will send it over to the House, and they may disagree with some of our changes, but then we will open what is called a free conference.”
State road funds come from two sources: gasoline tax and federal dollars, Buford said. The increase in revenue was not a surprise, the senator said.
“They have been forecasting that for about five years,” Buford said.
Both legislatures said projects such as the I-75 connector and Eastern Nicholasville Bypass are a must to help with increasing traffic demands and future growth.
“People are still driving, and highways are extremely busy,” Buford said. “We are hearing reports right now that are dangerous to hear. They indicate that by 2023, road traffic throughout the United States will increase by about 70 percent.”
Buford said if the road projects are not completed, traffic will be much worse.
“It will start to become a logjam between Nicholasville Road, Man O’ War, New Circle Road and Richmond Road, and out that direction if we don’t get this resolved in the next 10-15 years,” he said.