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U.S. DOT awards Kentucky Transportation Cabinet $67 million for Boone County interchange upgrades

NKyTribune staff

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has received approval for a $67 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund upgrades to interchanges at Mt. Zion Road (KY 536) and Richwood Rd (KY 388).

Click to enlarge

The improvements will include the replacement of traditional diamond interchanges with double crossover diamond interchanges. The project also includes construction of 2 miles of northbound and southbound auxiliary lanes along the I/71-75 north of KY 536.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, issued the following statement regarding the project:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $67 million federal grant to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to fund much-needed improvements to Interstate 75 (I-75)/ Interstate 71 (I-71) in Boone County.

Senator McConnell contacted the department to support his constituent’s application to the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive federal grant program.

 KYTC will use these resources to begin major improvements to approximately five miles of I-75/I-71 between Richwood and Florence in Boone County. Recent studies show that this important interstate corridor has seen a severe increase in traffic volumes – reaching levels three times more than it was designed to accommodate.

 To alleviate the growing congestion, KYTC will use the federal grant funding to construct auxiliary lanes and a new type of interchange near Mt. Zion Road called a “double crossover diamond.” These new investments in Kentucky’s transportation system can help ease congestion, increase capacity, and improve safety.

 “I was proud to work with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore to help secure this $67.5 million federal investment in the Commonwealth,said Senator McConnell. “Once this project is completed, the improved interstate will better serve the entire region – not only by making travel safer and more efficient for passenger vehicles but also by supporting commercial freight transportation which is vital to thousands of workers at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). As this part of our state continues to see new growth and economic development, I am pleased that this major interstate project can help us reach our full potential.” 

 “This award for major reconstruction of these two I-75/71 interchanges and additional interstate lanes in Boone County will have a tremendously favorable impact on traffic congestion, safety and the movement of goods and services along this corridor,” said Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore. “These grant resources will support the significant economic development activity occurring here in Boone County and result in continuing job creation and private investment. We commend Transportation Secretary Chao for the use of federal resources that will pay dividends to local communities and extend our gratitude to Senator McConnell and Governor Bevin for their unwavering support of this critical infrastructure project.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet also released a statement, excerpted below, regarding the projects:

One of the Commonwealth’s most heavily traveled freight corridors will be revitalized thanks to a $67.5 million INFRA grant awarded to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) for I-71/I-75 interchange improvements in Boone County. Kentucky’s project is one of 26 projects issued the grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation to address critical issues facing the nation’s aging infrastructure.

The official notification to Congress from U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (excerpted), regarding the grant for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project (click to enlarge).

“State funds are critical in competing for federal grants,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas. “The collective financial stake of $83.4 million from traditional state and federal funds, as well as local and private funds, made this grant request a strong contender. I would like to thank Gov. Bevin for his support of this project and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for her continued partnership in moving Kentucky’s infrastructure forward. I also thank U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie for their roles in supporting the project. We are eager to make progress on these critical improvements that promote the Cabinet’s safety mission, support job growth and enhance the quality of life for residents in the region.”

The project will improve mobility for those who live and work in the area by converting both the existing KY 338 diamond interchange and the existing KY 536 diamond interchange to double crossover diamond interchanges and by reconstructing the existing U.S. 25 and KY 338 intersection to a single-point urban interchange. Safety improvements and traffic delays will be addressed by eliminating two at-grade rail crossings and constructing an overpass railroad bridge for the Norfolk Southern line.

A double crossover diamond interchange at Harrodsburg/New Circle Road in Lexington (provided photo). Click to enlarge.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-KY, was among those who supported the project after meeting with local leaders and community members.

“I was happy to support their efforts to secure the necessary federal funding. As a longtime advocate for spending money on projects here at home rather than abroad,” Sen. Paul said. “I am thrilled that Kentucky will benefit from the critical infrastructure improvements made possible by this grant, and look forward to continuing my efforts to bring our money home for projects here in this country.”

The total future estimated cost of the project is $150.9 million. In addition to the INFRA grant, a combination of traditional state and federal funds, as well as local Boone County Fiscal Court funds and private funds, will pay for the remainder of the project.

Project improvements
· Replacement of the existing conventional diamond I-71/I-75 interchanges at KY 338 (Richwood Road) and KY 536 (Mt. Zion Road) with double crossover diamond (DCD) interchanges. These improvements eliminate bottlenecks and improve safety;

  • Reconstruction of the intersection of U.S. 25 and KY 338 just east of the I-71/I-75 interchange with KY 338 to construct a Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI), eliminating two at-grade rail crossings;
  • Construction of northbound and southbound auxiliary lanes along I-71/I-75 north of the KY 536 interchange (MP 178.039 to MP 180.06); and
  • Enhancements including minor widening along KY 536 and KY 338 to accommodate turn lanes, intersection improvements, access management and non-motorized transportation improvements.

Construction for portions of the project will begin in 2019. The estimated completion for the entire project is the winter of 2021.

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