By Abby Laub
By car, commercial truck, bus, railcar, aircraft, bicycle or on foot, Central Kentucky is an easily navigable location with the logistical advantage of being located within a day’s drive or two-hour flight from two-thirds of the nation’s population and markets.
Lexington is the nexus of major north-south corridor Interstate 75 and east-west corridor Interstate 64, and is within an hour of both DHL Express’ global hub in Northern Kentucky and UPS Worldport in Louisville. Lexington is home to 70-year-old Blue Grass Airport, arguably one of the easiest-to-access in the nation with short wait times and easy flights with more added all the time; the airport is uniquely equipped to handle specialized equine travel.
A record number of passengers traveled through Blue Grass Airport in 2016. Those 1,309,765 passengers were a 5.5 percent increase over 2015, the third consecutive year the airport has set a record traveler number. There were a record 637,000 departures.
“We are fortunate to have such strong relationships with Allegiant, American, Delta and United (airlines) – all of whom have invested in our community and continue to support our local business and leisure travelers — as well as a business community that makes a commitment to fly from Blue Grass Airport,” said Eric Frankl, its executive director.
In October 2016, Frankl was named was Kentucky Commercial Service Airport Manager of the Year at the 40th annual Kentucky Aviation Association Conference in Owensboro.
To accommodate its growth, Blue Grass Airport will spend nearly $35 million the next two to three years to complete upgrades, including additional hangars for private planes, parking and a new baggage system. Lexington-based Long Construction will complete the design-build hangar project.
The airport recently welcomed local retailer Cork & Barrel as its latest partner, a bourbon and fine wine retailer located post-security in the airport gate area. With more than 100 bourbons, passengers are traveling with the finest spirits from Kentucky’s iconic distilleries.
In September 2017, Central Kentucky benefited from formation of the Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition in Frankfort to advocate for long-term, sustainable transportation investment. The coalition includes more than 30 organizations that represent manufacturers, farmers, economic development officials, engineers, local leaders and more than 40,000 transportation workers who understand that safe, reliable, efficient transportation is essential to Kentucky’s economy.
Major road construction is already happening in Central Kentucky, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Lexington recently completed a $34.6 million rehabbing and widening to six lanes of an important piece of western New Circle Road (Ky. 4) from Versailles Road to Leestown Road. Versailles Road conveys traffic to Blue Grass Airport, Keeneland Racecourse and connects I-64 and I-75 to limited-access Blue Grass Parkway; its New Circle Road interchange was reconstructed for about $13 million.
Further northwest on New Circle Road, the Newtown Pike interchange is being reconstructed, and the Newtown Pike extension past the west end of downtown to South Broadway opened in September. This long anticipated bypass of the central business district greatly eases travel from the Kentucky Horse Park and I-64/I-75 in the north to the University of Kentucky just south of downtown areas.
Georgetown Road also is being widened and enhanced, accommodating continuing rapid growth in Scott County, the home of Toyota’s 8.1 million-s.f. vehicle manufacturing complex.
On the south side of Lexington, work just wrapped up on the years-long Clays Mill Road widening project. A heavily used 3.7-mile urban minor arterial, Clays Mill Road has added a middle turn lane, and improved pedestrian and bicycling features to relieve congestion without disrupting neighborhood character.
Eight miles south of Lexington, plans are advancing for the East Nicholasville Bypass in Jessamine County, which will be 7.4 miles and bypass north-south U.S. 27 to divert traffic away from downtown Nicholasville and connect the city with other nearby communities and industries.
Public transportation in Lexington is facilitated by Lextran, which operates a fleet of more than 70 buses, some of which are fully electric, and other vehicles that service about 900 stops in Fayette County.
In September 2017, Lextran received a $1 million grant through the Federal Transit Authority’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program. The funds will be used to purchase battery-powered buses and on-route charging stations in coordination with the University of Kentucky’s ‘Blue Goes Green’ program which seeks a zero-emissions campus for transportation.
“The awarding of this federal grant will help Lextran and the University of Kentucky to reduce emissions in and around campus which will benefit the community as a whole,” Congressman Andy Barr said in a press release. “I am proud that my office was able to assist in this effort and I appreciate all of the hard work by Lextran and the University of Kentucky to secure these funds that will be used to better our community.”
The region also is committed to making itself more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The former two-lane US 68 corridor in Jessamine County has turned into an almost exclusively bicycle path. On the north end of Fayette County, the popular Legacy Trail connects pedestrians from downtown Lexington via 12 miles of neighborhood greenspace and parks all the way to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Blue Grass Airport
Capital City Airport
Frankfort – cca.ky.gov
Cynthiana-Harrison County Airport
Georgetown-Scott County Regional Airport
georgetown – scottcountyairport.com
Richmond – madisonairportky.com
Stanton – airnav.com/airport/I50/
Stuart Powell Field
Danville – airnav.com/airport/KDVK
Norfolk Southern Corp.
R.J. Corman Railroad Group
Nicholasville – rjcorman.com