By Esther Zunker
Major construction projects on key traffic arteries around Lexington keep driving forward under the latest Kentucky six-year road plan. Presented in January 2014 to state General Assembly members, it calls for nearly $7 billion of state and federal transportation projects funding statewide.
The highest priority project in Fayette County is a $34.6 million rehabbing and widening to six lanes of New Circle Road (Ky. 4) from Versailles Road to Leestown Road. The Versailles Road interchange, which handles Blue Grass Airport traffic, is being reconstructed for about $13 million. Similarly, the Newtown Pike interchange is being reconstructed and the road widened to six lanes from Georgetown Road to Boardwalk Avenue for $19.5 million.
Transportation leaders said the New Circle widening project is expected to be complete in September next year.
The final phase is underway for a $4.6 million upgrade to Clays Mill Road in southwest Lexington from New Circle Road to Keithshire Way. This 3.7-mile urban minor arterial through a mixed-use area handles 15,000 to 20,000 vehicles daily, according to the city, but estimates are that traffic volume could increase to 20,000 to 25,000 by 2020. The project goal is to relieve congestion and improve safety while maintaining the area’s residential character.
Last June, Gov. Steve Beshear announced initial plans for a 7.4-mile East Nicholasville Bypass project to be constructed in three sections for $123 million. The four-lane route will complete a loop around Nicholasville and connect to the U.S. 27 West Bypass(known locally as the Nicholasville Bypass).
Additional new/widened road projects are underway on Liberty/Todds Road, Brannon Road, Citation Boulevard and Oliver Lewis Way.
A prime location
Economic success here is due in large part to a prime location in the state and the nation. Nestled at the crossroads of east-west Interstate 64 and north-south I-75, Lexington is about one hour south of Cincinnati and one hour east of Louisville.
Lexington is within 600 miles of 50 percent of the nation’s population, giving area businesses the great advantage of one-day delivery access to many U.S. cities in the East, South and Midwest. Central Kentucky is within an hour’s flight of 70 percent of the U.S. population.
Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, with public nonprofit ownership, serves more than a million Central and Eastern Kentucky residents a year. It is one of America’s fastest-growing airports.
Beyond being a catalyst for growth, the airport provides qualitative and societal benefits such as Medevac flights, search and rescue operations, law enforcement personnel and horse transport.
Five miles from downtown Lexington directly across from Keeneland Race Course, Blue Grass airport is the primary scheduled air service provider to 54 Central and Eastern Kentucky counties. Five major airlines fly non-stop to 15 airports with connecting service worldwide.
The 1,209,327 passengers in 2014 set a new mark for the 68-year-old airport, topping 2004’s record total of 1,168,397 for 3.5 percent. New American Airlines non-stop flights to Philadelphia, Pa., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., helped account for a 9.5 percent jump from 2013.