By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
What has been described as a “deadly stretch of road” between London and Corbin is being reviewed for improvements.
A public meeting displaying proposed routes for widening of U.S. 25-South between Ky. 1006 at the Levi Jackson State Park to the intersection of U.S. 25 and U.S. 25-E, also known locally as “Malfunction Junction,” was held at Hunter Hills Elementary Thursday. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet hosted the meeting in order to hear input from citizens in the area.
The proposal includes a widening project with two options: a five-lane roadway with turning lanes or a four-lane divided highway with a median and turning points as designated.
Another option is whether to follow the existing roadway between London and Corbin or to create a by-pass that will cut through the Fariston community before linking back with U.S. 25-South.
Jonathan Dobson, public affairs officer for the Cabinet’s District 11 office in Manchester, said the nine-mile stretch of roadway that runs parallel to Interstate 75 and connects London and Corbin is “a very concerning road regarding safety.”
“There have been numerous accidents, some fatal,” Dobson said. “There is a lot of congestion through this section and the level of transportation over the roadway will increase over the next several years.”
Dobson said the proposed improvements would be to widen the highway to a five-lane road with a 45 mph speed limit and would have no median. The other option is a four-lane divided highway with a grass median between the north and south-bound lanes with turning sections.
“The divided highway, which we recommend, gives you better control of access,” Dobson said.
U.S. 25-South now has two lanes with the exception of a three-lane just past Robinson Creek Road. That section of roadway has a 55 mph speed limit.
“There are a lot of factories on this route and with traffic pulling in and out, one wrong move could be fatal,” Dobson said. “There is very little margin for error as it is right now. Why we are here today is to show the public the two proposals and get their input.”
For now, however, input is all that is being taken. Dobson said before any improvements can begin, the project has to receive funding — something not available right now. Any widening project will also involve obtaining right-of-ways from existing landowners, moving utility lines, and other technical and legal issues.
“This (widening) will be done in phases,” Dobson added. “That is such a monumental section of roadway that it will have to be done in sections.”
Residents and business owners in the area were also looking at a proposed by-pass that will run through a more rural section of the Fariston community as part of the road improvement. Dobson said the alternate route could alleviate the north-south traffic congestion.
“We look at what the traffic flow could be in 20 to 30 years,” he explained. “We get the funding for the design phase, then get the public’s input, and then get the funding. This could be a 10-year time frame to even begin.”
Dobson did add, however, that funding for widening the section of U.S. 25-South between the Ky. 192 by-pass (South Laurel Road) and Ky. 1006 (Old Whitley Road) had already been funded. No estimate was given on when construction would begin on that project.