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Wilmore intersection project underway

By RANDY PATRICK

The Jessamine Journal

After years of planning and debate, the reconstruction of the U.S. 68/Ky. 29 intersection is under way.

Natasha Lacy, a spokesperson for the Department of Highways’ District 7 office in Lexington said the a contractor began work on the diversion Monday. Workers are clearing and grubbing on the west end of the diversion, meaning they are removing trees, stumps, shrubs and cutlines for the diversion.

According to Lacy, the $1.6 million construction project was awarded to The Allen Company last August. Total cost of the project, including design, right of way acquisition, utility relocation and construction, is estimated to be $5.5 million.

The contract date for finishing the project is Sept. 30 of this year.

District 7 Chief District Engineer Kelly Baker is the main engineer for the project.

Local officials have been trying to get the state to realign the “Y” intersection for decades because it is so dangerous. There have been many injury accidents, including two fatalities in the past 10 years, in that stretch of road that runs along Sycamore Hill and Roseglade farms at the northern entrance to Wilmore. But some residents have protested the design, saying they think the “slip lane” for traffic going north from Wilmore will be even more dangerous, especially since the state is taking out the caution light at that location.

Traffic going north from Ky. 29 won’t have to stop to merge onto U.S. 68, but traffic going south onto Ky. 29 will have to get into a turn lane and stop at the intersection. The design will be more like a “T” than a “Y.”

Lacy said that what some are calling a slip lane is actually a 650-foot long lane for merging traffic.

Early during the planning process, the Transportation Cabinet had two public meetings, in April 2014 and July 2015, and the community input from those meetings was taken into consideration in coming up with the design. The intersection also had to be approved by the planning board for Wilmore and Jessamine County and is supported by the Lexington Metropolitan Planning Organization.