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Two Kentucky highway projects singled out with transportation awards

Projects in Lexington, Bowling Green recognized for innovation, quick completion

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 18, 2012) – Two Kentucky highway projects that eased chronic traffic congestion and increased safety for motorists in Lexington and Bowling Green have been recognized for excellence in the 2012 America’s Transportation Awards competition.

Regional awards for the U.S. 68 Double Crossover Diamond in Lexington, and the William H. Natcher Parkway Extension project in Bowling Green, were presented today at the annual meeting of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) in Lexington.

“I am very proud of our project teams and gratified that their fine work has been recognized outside our commonwealth,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. “Innovative designs and timely completion of projects are indispensable as we work to deliver a quality highway program for the citizens of Kentucky.”

The Double Crossover Diamond Interchange project was a winner in the category of Best Use of Innovation, Small Project. The Natcher Parkway Extension was a winner in the category of Ahead of Schedule, Medium Project. Here is a closer look:

Double Crossover Diamond

The project reduced congestion and increased safety at one of Lexington’s busiest and chronically crash-plagued interchanges – U.S. 68 (Harrodsburg Road) and KY 4 (New Circle Road). The design is the first of its kind in Kentucky and one of six in the United States. It took less than four months to construct and at a cost – $5.5 million – that was less than a third of other options.

The unique and most striking feature of the design is that it eliminates a troublesome potential conflict point – left turns across traffic. Drivers instead are diverted briefly to the opposite side of the road to enter and exit KY 4. The result is less congestion, smoother traffic flow and a reduction in crashes and commute time.

The stretch of Harrodsburg Road in the project area had the highest crash rate of any major artery in Lexington. But within months of the new design, crashes dropped by nearly half.

With the success of the design, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has two more double crossover diamond designs in the works with still others being discussed.

Natcher Parkway Extension

Construction of the nearly $38 million Natcher Parkway Extension from Interstate 65 to U.S. 231 (Scottsville Road), southeast of Bowling Green, began in February 2010. It opened to traffic on Nov. 3, 2011 – five months ahead of the expected completion date.

The project was needed to alleviate congestion on U.S. 231 by providing better and safer access to southeastern Warren County and beyond. The project was years in the planning and eagerly awaited, so when the contractor for the grade and drain and surfacing work proposed a time-saving idea – combine the completion dates of the two contracts to get the Parkway extension open to traffic sooner – KYTC was in favor of the idea.

In addition to alleviating congestion, the extension project has improved connectivity between two sections of the National Truck Network and the National Highway System, thereby completing a loop by tying the parkway into U.S. 231 southeast of the interstate.

Now in its fifth year, the America’s Transportation Awards competition – sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce –  recognizes the best of America’s transportation projects in three main categories: Ahead of Schedule, Under Budget, and Best Use of Innovation.

The 10 projects with highest overall scores will be announced in September. Finalists will then compete for the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Awards. The winning state transportation agencies each earn a $10,000 prize to support a non-profit organization. The awards are featured at www.AmericasTransportationAward.org.