Two SE KY Highways Cited for Excellence

Aug 23, 2011

LOUISVILLE – Two Kentucky highway projects – reconstruction of U.S. 68/KY 80 through Land Between the Lakes and the first completed phase of the Newtown Pike Extension, in Lexington – Monday were singled out as two of the top transportation projects in the Southeast.

Both projects now advance to a national competition – America’s Transportation Awards, sponsored by AAA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

“It’s an honor to have two projects selected as regional winners in a prestigious competition,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “It’s a great credit to our very innovative engineers, who work day in and day out to produce high-value roadways that increase safety and mobility for the traveling public.”

The awards were presented at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, one of AASHTO’s four regional organizations. Twelve Southeastern states and Puerto Rico comprise the SASHTO membership.

The America’s Transportation Awards were created to celebrate transportation improvements delivered by state transportation agencies on time, under budget and using innovative management. The U.S. 68/KY 80 project transformed a meandering, congestion-prone, two-lane highway into a modern, four-lane divided highway through Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) in western Kentucky. It was a regional winner in the Innovative Management/Medium Project category.

The $50 million project, with work spread over two years, was built to satisfy a number of requirements unique: maintained and improved visitor access, context-sensitive design, and development of a hike and bike trail.

The new roadway reduced bumper-to-bumper summer, weekend and holiday traffic and eliminated slow-moving lines of vehicles pulling campers and boat trailers to campgrounds and boat ramps.

Jim LeFevre, chief district engineer of Department of Highways District 1, Paducah, accepted the award.

Newtown Pike, Phase IV was a regional winner in the On Time/Small Project category. It is part of an overall plan to extend Newtown Pike (KY 922) from Main Street (U.S. 25) to South Broadway (U.S. 68) and on to South Limestone Street (U.S. 27) at the main entrance of the University of Kentucky.

In addition to providing a direct connection from the university to the interstate, the enhanced roadway will reduce traffic congestion in downtown Lexington and encourage redevelopment of a 1.5-mile corridor. The $16 million project was completed on time – two weeks prior to the opening of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

James Ballinger, chief district engineer of Department of Highways District 7, Lexington, accepted the award.

As regional winners, both projects will be considered for inclusion in the “Top Ten” projects in the competition. The Top Ten will compete for a Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award, both to be presented at the AASHTO annual meeting on Oct. 16 in Detroit.

The Grand Prize winner is selected by a panel of transportation experts. The People’s Choice Award winner is chosen through online public voting. Both carry a $10,000 cash prize that can be used to start a scholarship fund for transportation professionals or donated to charity.