Connector road designs unveiled

November 19, 2003|GARY MOYERS

Design engineers from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet unveiled designs for a proposed connector road between Ky. 33 and Ky. 34 at a public hearing Tuesday evening, and the one element that drew the most comment was a roundabout.

The design showcased as the "preliminary final" choice includes a roundabout instead of the traditional four-way intersection where the connector would tie in with Ky. 34, near the existing Waterworks Road intersection.

"It's a little early to tell about the public's reaction, but I've heard mixed comments tonight," said James Ballinger, D.O.T. District Seven Transportation Engineering Branch Manager and conductor of the public hearing. "It's a relatively new concept in this part of the country, but studies have shown than when properly implemented and utilized, they are much, much safer than traditional intersections with control devices."

The roundabout, the closest example of which is on the new Reynolds Road expansion in Lexington, is common in other parts of the country, Ballinger said.


A roundabout replaces an intersection governed by a traditional traffic control device with a circular intersection, somewhat akin to the downtown "square" concept used in many Kentucky cities. In the square, traffic is routed around a central park area and simply merges to and from arterial roads. Ballinger said the intersection for the connector road would be a two-lane roundabout and not four.

"They're being used in Bardstown, Leitchfield and Jamestown with great success," he said.

The connector project, which began with a planning phase, is designed to route traffic between Ky. 33 (Burgin Road) and Ky. 34 (Lexington Road). Planning groups, including a Citizens' Advisory Group from Danville, initially considered nine possible routes through three geographic corridors, Ballinger said. Those options have been narrowed to three, with one route recommended that would begin at the intersection of Ky. 33 and Ky. 2168. It would travel in a southeasterly direction until reaching the intersection point with Ky. 34 near Waterworks Road.

The route, called Alternate 2CR, would be a two-lane road built on right-of-way for four lanes to accommodate future traffic growth. If approved, construction would begin in 2006 with an estimated final cost of $9.7 million.

One additional feature being explored is the addition of a multi-purpose trail or path for pedestrians, runners and bicyclists. That addition would add an additional $600,000 to the cost.

The goal of the connector, as determined by the advisory group, is to provide an east-west link on the northern side of Danville, with the possible ultimate goal of extending the road further to connect with U.S. 150. Traffic impact numbers provided by Ballinger and his nine engineers at the meeting estimate the connector, if built today, would handle 4,800 vehicles per day. The same study maintains if the connector were extended to U.S. 150, approximately 12,000 vehicles would use it each day.

Projected truck traffic would be 11.4 percent of the average daily traffic.

The route chosen, Ballinger said, is an attempt to balance traffic needs with aesthetic and environmental concerns.

"Within financial reason, we try very hard to create a road that blends well with the surrounding area," he said. "Personally, I could see this project providing a potential gateway into Danville from the north, something that would be a way to showcase the city."

Ballinger said the public meeting, which included aerial photos, maps, statistical information and engineering blueprints, was more than just a way to fulfill a legal requirement.

"We're nearing the end of the process where we'll actually select the final design," he said. "The input from the public and the advisory group is invaluable to U.S., and helps U.S. identify potential problems and alternate suggestions. Their comments absolutely matter to us."

The next stage is the final design stage, followed by right-of-way procurement and utility relocation. At that point, construction on the project would actually begin.

Bill Griffin, a Danville resident who attended the meeting, said the connector is needed.

"I'm in favor of it," he said. "Progress always comes at a cost."

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