FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited Pikeville today to announce funding that will jump-start a project to reduce hazards and traffic congestion on Pikeville’s Bypass Road, long prone to rockfalls. The Governor joined state and local officials at Pikeville City Hall to present $250,000 in emergency road funds. With the money, engineers will begin plans to eliminate the rockfall problem and improve traffic flow.
“My administration is committed to improving the safety of our highways throughout this great commonwealth,” said Governor Fletcher. “Today we are announcing an investment that will finally deliver a solution for the critical rockfall issue on Bypass Road. Using our discretionary emergency road fund account, we are taking steps to move this project into the fast lane.”
On average, 9,500 vehicles per day travel on Bypass Road, which serves the busy Pikeville Medical Center, Pikeville Elementary School and other facilities. A stretch of the road between the Ferguson Creek intersection and KY 1460 (the Chloe Road intersection) is often plagued by rockfalls, which engineers attribute to winter freezing and spring thawing of water between gaps in the rocks.
Area legislators praised the Governor’s action.
“This is truly significant for the people of Pike County,” said Sen. Ray Jones (D-Pikeville). “Improvements are badly needed, and we appreciate the additional funding for this project.”
Remedial plans will include shifting lanes away from the rock wall and adding a fence to catch falling debris. The Transportation Cabinet will also examine improvements to ease traffic congestion at the intersection of KY 1426 and Huffman Avenue by combining the two signalized intersections.
Governor Fletcher has directed the Transportation Cabinet to place the project in the state’s six-year highway plan. Total cost of the project, including design, right-of-way, utility work and construction is estimated at $15.7 million.
Rep. Hubert Collins (D-Pikeville) agreed that the project is badly needed. “Funding for this project will go a long way in providing a safer driving environment for the citizens of Pike County,” Collins said.
“Our terrain in eastern Kentucky sometimes requires unique solutions,” said Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville). “I don’t doubt that a viable solution will be created. It will surely provide a much safer route for our travelers.”
“Governor Fletcher has made a remarkable commitment today that will profoundly impact the citizens of Pike County for many years to come,” concluded Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert. “For too long motorists in Pike County have faced the danger of falling rocks on this busy stretch of highway. Through the Governor’s bold leadership, the Transportation Cabinet is making great strides to correct these problems and provide all Kentuckians with the safe roads and infrastructure they deserve.”