PIKEVILLE – Gov. Steve Beshear Monday announced three transportation projects in Eastern Kentucky that will dramatically improve access and mobility for communities in Pike and Martin counties. “We are making improvements that will benefit hundreds of families, many of whom, through no fault of their own, have been isolated to the point of hardship,” Beshear said. The governor, joined by numerous local officials and residents for a ceremony at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville, symbolically broke ground for two projects and presented funding for a third:
Reconstruction of KY 40 in Martin County
The project, which is being carried out in stages, when completed will provide a modern roadway from the Inez-Warfield area to the border with West Virginia.
The groundbreaking Monday marked a $31.2 million project for a 1.5-mile section being cut through an area of Martin County called Little Blacklog Fork. The project area begins near Sheldon Clark High School, where a new interchange is under construction in a separate project.
“This project really benefits Martin County, not only by providing a new road but setting aside land that will be ripe for development. I’m really glad to see this one move forward, and know that it will significantly improve not just the community but the entire region, Rep. Hubert Collins, of Wittensville, said. “With the good bids we’ve had, hopefully we can see this particular project extended to the next phase quickly.”
“I am proud to have played a role in getting the funding for this very important project. This new section of highway and interchange ramps, which is part of a bigger KY 40 project, will allow for better access for tourists and new commerce,” said Sen. Ray Jones, of Pikeville. “Once the modern connector between U.S. 23 in Lawrence County and U.S. 52 in Kermit, W. VA is completed, the entire area will have the potential for additional economic development. These improvements are an investment in the future growth of Martin County and the surrounding eastern Kentucky area. I am pleased to see the project moving forward.”
Bridge over creek, railroad tracks at Draffin, in Pike County
The $8.24 million project – part of a larger project to build a new U.S. 460 through Pike County and into Virginia – will provide a modern, elevated bridge over Pond Creek and CSX railroad tracks and unobstructed access to U.S. 460 for residents of Draffin, southeast of Pikeville.
Residents trying to reach the highway now must negotiate a steep hill to reach a low, narrow, flood-prone bridge. They also are subject to long delays when a train is on the tracks. In addition, Draffin’s access road intersects U.S. 460 at an angle so acute as to make it virtually impossible to execute a right turn to head east. Drivers wanting to go east must instead go west and use a roadside turnaround spot.
“I am proud to have played a role in getting the funding for this very important project. This modern, elevated bridge over Pond Creek and the railroad tracks will provide unobstructed access to U.S. 460, making travel much safer and more efficient. The existing bridge is flood-prone and the train often causes unavoidable lengthy delays. This bridge will improve travel on this road,” Sen. Ray Jones, of Pikeville, said. “Additionally, this project is part of a larger transportation project to build a new U.S. 460 through Pike County and into Virginia, which will make the area more accessible for tourists and new commerce. These improvements are an investment in Pike County and the surrounding eastern Kentucky area. I am pleased to see the project moving forward.”
“There is no doubt that both of these projects are critically important to Pike County, so I’m more than happy to see them move forward,” Rep. Leslie Combs, of Pikeville, said. “They will be a big help for anyone who, like me, has had to overcome the challenges each offers. Overall, they are a step in the right direction when it comes to bringing our community the kind of highway system that it truly deserves.”
Construction of Fishtrap Lake Road to end isolation of Upper Pompey area
Beshear presented a ceremonial check for $2 million to Pike County Fiscal Court toward construction of a county road to end 43 years of relative isolation for residents along Upper Pompey, Jonican and Hurricane roads.
They were largely cut off when Fishtrap Lake Dam was completed in 1968. Today, a drive to Pikeville for medical services, school or shopping is a 42-mile trip. With the new road, Pikeville will be just minutes away.
“We appreciate Gov. Beshear coming to Pike County for these projects, both of which will be a big help to our community,” Rep. Keith Hall, of Phelps, said. “I appreciate his bringing a check to help the remote people of Upper Pompey get an access road. I have worked hard and diligently to help my people near Fishtrap who have been isolated since 1968! My hope is that we can get water for this area and Jonican next.”
The project involves improvement of about a half-mile of Upper Pompey Road and construction of a new county road, seven-tenths of a mile long that includes two box culverts to cross Upper Pompey Branch.