With a goal to enhance safety and improve access to other counties, both the City of Richmond and Madison County have each committed $500,000 as their partial match for an application for the 2019 Build Transportation Grant with a purpose to improve parts of Kentucky Highway 52.

The Link KY-52 proposes a re-alignment of route 52 to join Duncannon Lane connecting Interstate 75 to Exit 83, which is the final link before completing a larger transportation program that extends U.S. 25 near Richmond through Lancaster.

Madison County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor said that this project would be done in place of a proposed Nicholasville connector, discussed in previous years, that would create a faster route from Madison County to Jessamine or Garrad counties.

“Instead of building that expensive Nicholasville connector, this would utilize already existing infrastructure and just update it,” Taylor said.

To complete the project, the county is requesting a little over $12 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

According to Taylor, Congressman Andy Barr, R-Ky., is in favor of the project.

“Congressman Barr is interested in this because it is a lot cheaper on tax dollars to get to I-75 South by using U.S. 27 out of Jessamine County,” Taylor explained. “Instead of a new road, they think there is a seven mile stretch that goes into downtown Lancaster from U.S. 27, which would have to be improved.”

The project consists of 6.8 miles of roadway and includes four primary improvements that aim to reduce vehicle miles travelled, increase safety and reduce travel times, which include lane realignment, intersection realignment, roadway and shoulder widening and two miles of new roadway for a more “direct route.”

In Richmond’s approved resolution, it states that the city is showing support to encourage regional partnerships with the surrounding counties and that the grant would “greatly improve the safety, access and economic opportunities for Madison County.”

The county applied for the grant last year after being encouraged by the transportation cabinet but with only about three weeks notice before the mid-July deadline.

Colleen Chaney, the county deputy judge/executive, said that last year, the county scrambled with the city of Richmond to put something together but that this year, they were ahead of the game.

In a meeting last month with the two cities and the county, Chaney said that she thinks that the county has a good opportunity to receive the grant for many reasons, including they have a private party included on their application with the Duncannon exchange property owners.

The land area in question is owned by a family who have offered $600,000 in easements to contribute to the project.

Chaney said that this helps make for a stronger application with including both public and private parties and mentioned that over the last three years, the counties that have been awarded this grant have had private partners included on their application.

In that same meeting, the county requested that whether or not the cities would back the project financially, that they send a letter of endorsement for the project to also include in the application.

In Richmond’s letter supporting the grant to the transportation cabinet, they expressed the dangers of the road currently, and how the improvements would help counteract this, as well as offer my access to other counties.

“Currently, KY-52 brings drivers through a narrow two-lane road,” the letter reads. “The improvements would realign what is currently the most dangerous segment of this road. Rather than weaving through narrow road segments, drivers will be re-routed on a realigned road that meets improvements on either side between Lancaster, Berea, and Richmond, KY. Additionally, the realignment will provide quality of life improvements for motorists within the corridor with reduced travel times and enhanced safety. These opportunities include but are not limited to, increased travel into Richmond, KY and improved access to the Madison County airport.”

The county officials made sure to highlight the opportunity for economic development with the improved roadways, which would provide a connector to an industrial area of the county near both the airport and Richmond’s industrial park.

“We have a lot of workforce that leaves and a lot that comes in,” Taylor said. “It is good for our county and region to all be a part of this Build Grant.”

While the city of Richmond backed the grant with both finances and a letter of support, the city of Berea decided they would only send a letter of endorsement of the project, as the affected area does not directly impede in Berea’s city limits and some council members thought money could be spent elsewhere.

County officials expect an answer sometime in the fall around October or November.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.

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