Curve project set to begin Monday

U.S. 68

August 01, 2003


Staff Writer

HARRODSBURG - The secretary of the Transportation Cabinet was here Thursday night to promise sensitivity to the concerns of residents along a stretch of U.S. 68 when work begins Monday to straighten the section between Chinn Lane and Chatham Road.

About 25 people gathered at the Mercer County Public Library to hear Secretary James C. Codell III and other officials explain what is set to happen to that stretch of highway where at least six people have lost their lives in traffic accidents over the last 30 years.

Codell said the $1.3 million project will take less time, cost less money and be safer for motorists if the road can be closed during construction.


The work will re-align that stretch of highway and the state has a contractual agreement with ASL Excavating of Flemingsburg to complete the work by Dec. 1.

However, Gary Shannon of ASL said with the ability to close the road, he hopes to complete the project and open the roadway in October.

Shannon and Mark Walls, construction engineer for District Seven of the state highway department were at the meeting to answer any questions residents of the area might have. "This is your road and as taxpayers, you are the customers," Codell said.

While no one present protested the project, there has been a controversy about the need to change the road.

Jim and Carolyn Sue Patterson live at Fairview, a home at the beginning of the curves as one travels from Harrodsburg to Shakertown.

Carolyn Sue Patterson said the stone entrance of the property held together with mortar stood for 150 years but has been hit three times in the last two years and has been knocked down. A burr oak tree more than 200 years old stands at the other end of the curves, toward Shakertown, and preservation of that tree has been the focal point for those concerned about the nature of the land around it.

The two sites represent the two sides of the argument about whether safety for some drivers not able to negotiate the curves exceeds the need to preserve the historic environment of the area. The preservationists don't dismiss the need for safety. They maintain the curves are not inherently unsafe; wrecks occur when drivers drive recklessly.

Codell sought to allay any fears. "We are going to make every effort to uphold every commitment we have made," he said. "We will respect the environmental and historical concerns."

He said when he came into office in 1996, the discussions about the roadway were under way and meetings were held to get input from those involved. He and Walls said in addition to trying to save the old trees in the area, the state has pledged to plant 140 new trees along the new stretch of road.

Walls said there is new thinking in the Transportation Cabinet under Codell's leadership about how roads will be constructed in the future. He and Codell cited the expansion of Paris Pike in Fayette County and Bourbon County.

"Paris Pike is beautiful because it fits the typography," Codell said.

That project took 20 or more years to get started, and it may have changed the way the state builds highways in Kentucky for the foreseeable future.

There will be no deep cuts in the land, nor will there be any high fill areas in the work to be done in Mercer County; the road will fit the topography, Codell said. Walls said there will be gently sweeping curves.

"We will not comprise on quality," Codell promised.|8/1/03***

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