$754 million plan to expand Mountain Parkway would require return to tolls

01/15/2014 04:21 PM

A plan to widen, modernize and extend the Mountain Parkway in Eastern Kentucky will require a return to tolls — a move Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders said Wednesday is necessary for the region’s future.

The plan, which needs approval from the General Assembly, calls for expanding to four lanes the entire 75.6 miles of the parkway from I-64 near Winchester to Salyersville.

Currently, the westernmost portion from Winchester to Campton has four lanes. But the remainder, which runs through Wolfe, Morgan and Magoffin counties, is two lanes with an occasional passing lane.

From Salyersville, the proposal calls for four-laning two connecting routes — U.S. 60 and Ky. 114 — for 16 miles to Prestonsburg where it would connect with four-lane U.S. 23. That essentially will create a four lane “expressway” from Winchester to Pikeville, Beshear said.

“This is a long overdue project for which leaders in Eastern Kentucky have long advocated to strengthen its ability to attract jobs and visitors,” said Beshear.

The project will cost $753.6 million with the money coming from a two main sources.

Beshear said $595.6 million will come from state and federal highway funds over the next six years and $158 million from the sale of toll revenue bonds.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he believes that completion of the highway will go a long way toward slowing the population exodus from Eastern Kentucky.

“When you look at (legislative) redistricting, it became very clear there had been shifts in the population, were along the major arteries in Kentucky,” said Stivers.

The work on the project would be broken down in four parts:

Sequence 1 – Mountain Parkway from KY 205 in Morgan County to Burning Fork Bridge near Salyersville, in Magoffin County.

Sequence 2 – U.S. 460 from Burning Fork Bridge at Salyersville to KY 114.
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Sequence 3 – KY 114 from U.S. 460 at Salyersville to KY 404 at Prestonsburg.
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Sequence 4-Westernmost part of the project area: Mountain Parkway from KY 191, Wolfe County, to KY 205 in Morgan County.

The Mountain Parkway opened 51 years ago and was originally a toll road.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at donald.weber@charter.com.

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