City still waiting on road projects

Published 9:49 am Friday, January 25, 2019

For many years, a pair of road projects for Seventh Street and Fulton Road have been stuck on the drawing board.

The reasons are many: A lack of state funds. Property owners who don’t want to sell their property for a necessary easement or right-of-way. No money to relocate utility lines.

Among the affected property owners, there is growing frustration about the lack of obvious progress on either project.

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In a special meeting Wednesday, the Winchester Board of Commissioners revisited both projects to see where things stood and ways they might move forward.

Winchester City Manager Matt Belcher said the Seventh Street project was designed as a way to reroute truck traffic from Gate Precast and the Freeman Corporation from residential neighborhoods. The project would build a new road to parallel Interstate 64 and meet at the intersection of Maple Street and Veterans Memorial Parkway. The state awarded funds to design the project in 2008, which was completed, but has remained there since.

Part of the issue, Belcher said, is the state hasn’t approved any more money for construction. Another obstacle involves the property itself.

“The preferred alternative (route) involved a property owner that essentially was not agreeable to the project,” he said. The property owner is “unwilling” to sell part of the property for a right-of-way for the road, he said.

Belcher said there were several other options, which would run truck traffic through other residential areas.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said condemning the property under eminent domain is a possibility but would be an extended and expensive process.

“Condemnation is not an easy process,” Burtner said. “It’s not a quick or cheap process by any stretch.”

Brian Ward, a consulting engineer with Palmer Engineering, estimated construction costs could be about $3 million now, plus utility relocation expenses.

“It has been going on too long,” Winchester resident Deatra Newell said. “We need some action on it.”

“When you say wait, you’re saying ‘you’re not important enough,” resident Joyce Morton said. “We have contacted everyone but no one is listening. I’m 70. How much longer should I wait?

Commissioner JoEllen Reed suggested a resolution from the commission to state Sen. Ralph Alvarado and state Rep. Les Yates to continue lobbying for funding for the project this year and in 2020, when the next budget will be approved.

Another project that has been waiting even longer is one to connect two sections of Fulton Road. Burtner said it would serve as a parallel corridor along Lexington Avenue from College Park to the existing Fulton Road.

The final section to complete the project would connect Professional Avenue near the Clark County Health Department to Fulton Road near the Quick Shop Trailer Park, Belcher said.

Belcher said the project still lacks a handful of easements and Ward said the plans should be mostly complete. Again, the issues are a lack of funding and property acquisition. The project, though, was listed in an appendix to the state’s six-year road plan.

Pat Clark, who owns property along Lexington Avenue, said the project would add a needed “relief valve” to Lexington Avenue traffic.

“All I’m asking is would you be as aggressive to get Fulton Road done as you appear to be about Seventh Street,” Clark said.

Ward said the previous construction estimate for Fulton Road was $1.4 million, but the information is several years old.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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