Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Advisory committee leans away from ending new Versailles bypass at Midway Road intersection

By Anthony Pendleton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Transportation Cabinet chart
The Citizens Advisory Committee for the proposed northwest bypass of Versailles leaned toward ending it at the north end of the existing bypass rather than US 62, Midway Road, at a meeting Thursday night.

Three out of five proposed alternative routes for the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor would connect directly to U.S. 62, but only one of them got a favorable vote from the committee, and the combined vote on those three alternatives was 12 for and 22 against, with 30 abstentions. Here are the alternative routes:
Leaders in Midway, as well as some in Versailles, are opposed to having the bypass connect to U.S. 62 due to safety concerns.

Committee members voted on each of the five alternatives, as well as two others that would merge two of the alternatives.

Alternatives 2, 3, and 4 would have slightly different south ends but would all connect directly to U.S. 62 on the north end. Alternative 2 received five positive and six negative votes with nine abstentions. Alternative 4 only received one positive vote, along with 10 negative votes and nine abstentions. Alternative 3 did the best of these, receiving six positive and two negative votes with 12 abstentions.

Alternative 1 got eight positive and two negative votes, but also 10 abstentions. It would connect to US 60 at the end of the existing northeastern bypass, just past Woodford County High School.

The only alternative to receive more positive votes than negative votes and abstentions was a combination of the beginning of Alternate 3 and the ending of Alternate 1. Thus, the clearly favored north end was at the northwest end of the existing bypass.

Alternative 5 did the worst of all. It only received one positive vote, along with 16 negative votes and three abstentions. It would run from Falling Springs Boulevard to US 60 northwest of US 62 and about a mile past the existing bypass.

Here is a view looking west with north at the right, with routes and property lines superimposed:
Some leaders support a "no-build" option, in which safety measures would be taken instead of building the bypass. At a Midway City Council meeting on March 2, Council Member Daniel Roller said, "No-build does not mean do nothing. It means do something to improve the volume of traffic flow in Versailles."

Some of the suggested improvements were to make road repairs elsewhere in Woodford County, to increase signage along US 60 near the Bluegrass Parkway exit, and to improve safety by moving the “Federal AAA trucking highway” designation of the Midway Road portion from U.S. 62 to U.S. 60.

Both suggestions were also included in a Feb. 28 letter sent to the committee by the Corridor Study Group, comprising various organizations in Woodford County, listing concerns about the bypass. One read, "There is the probability of increased traffic and reduced safety on Midway Road, and in the town of Midway." The Midway City Council endorsed the letter.

U.S. 62 has only two lanes, has narrow shoulders making it difficult to safely pull over, and is lined by trees, fences, and stone walls along most of the route from Versailles to Midway.

According to The Woodford Sun, committee members present Thursday night included Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift; former mayor Tom Bozarth; Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott; Versailles City Council Member Carl Ellis; Versailles Assistant Police Chief James Fugate; Paul Simmons, Versailles assistant public works director; Woodford County Magistrate C.L. Watts; county Road Engineer Buan Smith; Gene Hornback, Woodford County Economic Development Authority; County School Supt. Scott Hawkins; Billy Van Pelt II, Woodford Forward; Gary T. Priest; Bill Barrows; Thomas R. Brown; Hoppy Henton, and Libby Jones of Midway.

The Transportation Cabinet says it will consider the committee's opinion in choosing three alternatives to be presented at a meeting for the general public in September. The committee will review the public's comments, and the cabinet and the Burgess & Niple engineering firm will choose a preferred alternative for the committee to review, probably in December.

The Transportation Cabinet distributed a questionnaire at the meeting, which must be returned by Nov. 14. To download a PDF of the questionnaire, click here. For a PDF of Burgess & Niple's PowerPoint presentation at the meeting, click here. For the cabinet brochure handed out at the meeting, click here. For the meeting agenda, click here. The cabinet's website for the project is here.

No comments: