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Seventh Street project moves forward

The Seventh Street Extension project has been included in the state’s six-year road plan, and Winchester’s city commissioners could decide as early as next week on contributing $300,000 to match state funds for it.

The new street will begin at the intersection of Maple Street and Veterans Memorial Parkway and run west for about seven-tenths of a mile parallel to Interstate 64.

Mike Flynn, the interim city manager, said Friday city officials met July 17 with the state Transportation Cabinet’s District 7 staff to discuss the $4 million project, and were told state lawmakers had included money for design, right of way acquisition and easements in the road plan.

“They asked us to allocate $300,000,” Flynn said.

The city’s match is actually $800,000, but City Manager Matt Belcher, whose last day was Friday, said he thinks the state will allow Winchester to use $500,000 allocated from the state’s Rural and Secondary Road Program’s discretionary funds last October as part of its match.

Belcher and Flynn said the state would give the city until 2023 to pay its part of the cost.

Right-of-way acquisition should begin in 2021, and construction should be completed by 2024, but that remains uncertain because of the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on revenue and budgets, Flynn said.

The project is one that has been on the city’s wish list for more than 30 years. When it is completed, the project will offer an alternative route for heavy truck traffic from Gates Precast Co. and the Freeman Corporation, diverting it away from Seventh Street, which runs through a residential neighborhood.

Residents have complained for years about the big trucks that crowd cars on the narrow street, stir up dust and are noisy.

“It’s not been a good situation for a long time,” Belcher said. “It’s going to really help the residents of that area, and it’s going to help those companies as well.”

Belcher said he thinks it could open the way for more business development in the area, which is needed.

The outgoing city manager said state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, state Rep. Les Yates, Transportation Cabinet officials and city officials have been working hard on the project for the past two years.

The city commission’s next meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 4. The members could decide at that meeting or a subsequent meeting to present a letter to the state committing to contribute its share of money to the project.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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