U.S. Transportation Secretary unveils $25 million grant for Pulaski Co. road improvements

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was joined by Governor Matt Bevin and Representative Hal Rogers in Somerset Saturday to unveil a $25 million grant for improvements to KY 461 in Pulaski County.

The award was made under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) transportation grant program.

The grant funding will go toward replacing the KY 461/KY 80 intersection and the KY 461/Valley Oak Drive intersection with grade-separated half- and partial-cloverleaf interchanges to improve traffic flow and safety.

"The new intersections will be designed to reduce the chance of collision, and in addition, the many roundabouts and an intelligent traffic signal system will improve traffic flow," said Secretary Chao.

The project will also widen about three miles of KY 461 from two lanes to four. Congressman Rogers said the improvements would help with traffic going in and out of the Valley Oak Commerce Complex.

"There are 11 companies in that complex. Nearly 3,000 employees," Rogers said. "There's several hundred trucks coming and going from those factories in that region."

Gov. Bevin noted how the project stands to benefit Lake Cumberland tourism.

"We want the Ohio Navy to be able to get down here and we want them to be able to leave as much money behind, and from wherever else they come," Bevin said.

The entire projected project cost is $69.3 million, a combination of federal, state, and local funding.

"The state is going to use a portion of the finite money we have to augment these federal dollars, together with local dollars, to find a way to get this done, and I'd love to see this entire thoroughfare go all the way through to Corbin," Bevin said.

Project officials tell WKYT work has to begin by September 2020. Engineers are working on an ambitious timetable.

"We are simultaneously doing design, right-of-way, and utilities," said Chief District Engineer Tamra Wilson. "This is a very fast-track project for us, so we are working all of that simultaneously. Those are typically step-by-step processes."

Pulaski County's project was one of 91 selected from 851 eligible applications from all 50 states. Secretary Chao congratulated local officials, telling them they made an "extraordinarily effective case."

"This grant is a reflection that the needs of rural America are not going to be ignored any longer," Chao said.

Officials expect the project to be completed by mid-2023.