Mountain Parkway expansion could cost drivers with toll

By: Morgan Lentes Email
By: Morgan Lentes Email
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UPDATE: 3-21-14 6:00 p.m.

PIKEVILLE, Ky (WYMT) - Eastern Kentucky officials are calling on the state to move forward with a plan to expand the Mountain Parkway and they hope it happens sooner rather than later.

In January, Governor Beshear announced an almost 800 million dollar plan to widen the road in six years. Now lawmakers have revised the project, which means it could take more time.

Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said Kentucky cannot wait.

"We start now, not later, now of solving this problem of isolation for eastern Kentucky. It is an opportunity that we do not want to see pass us. It is an opportunity for our people. We have waited far too long," said Rutherford.

There is debate over whether to use a toll to pay for the project.
CAMPTON, Ky (WYMT) - You have probably heard the expression that nothing in life is free. That could be true for drivers on the Mountain Parkway soon if a toll is reinstated to help pay for an expansion project.

If Governor Beshear gets his way, drivers can look forward to more room on parts of the Mountain Parkway. On Wednesday, Beshear announced plans to make all of that road four lanes. A decision supported by Wolfe County Judge Executive Dennis Brooks.

"For one thing, it will have to help save lives. We have had an awful lot of fatalities up through that area and then the other hope is to bring more industry," said Brooks.

But a new toll to help cover the costs of the expansion could be a catch for some drivers. Still Brooks thinks it is the best solution to the problem of footing the bill.

"It is fair to everyone. Anybody who travels it does not matter if they are Kentuckians, Ohioans or whatever. They all pay toll, the rich and the poor," said Brooks.

Kellie Glenn is a waitress at Smith's Restaurant in Campton and she told WYMT that while no one is ever excited about handing over their hard earned cash, there are worse things than a toll.

"It is not a bad idea because you know, it would probably help cut out taxes on us working people anyway," said Glenn.

Wolfe County resident Colin Halcomb agreed with Glenn. He said he can remember when there used to be a toll on the highway.

"We would not have had the Mountain Parkway if it had not been for the tolls," said Halcomb.

However, drivers are not complaint free about this latest construction project.

"I think they ought to start at one end and go one way instead of jumping in the middle. Start one end and go all the way with it," said Halcomb.

At this point, the toll is only under consideration and not a done deal.

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