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Carl Henry was smiling big because he good news to report about the progress with construction of the Shelbyville Bypass.
"Burks Branch is back open again," he said. "And it's about time."
State officials said no further delays are anticipated and that the entire, $26.1million project is on schedule to be completed by August 2009.
"Right now, the excavation work is done, and almost all the bridge road work is also done, said Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. We have one more concrete pour coming up on Tuesday.
The bypass extends 4.5 miles north from the intersection of U.S. 60 and Ky. 55, crosses Ky. 53 (LaGrange Road) near West Middle School and Painted Stone Elementary and reconnects with Ky. 55 (Eminence Road) just south of Bellview Road.
Burks Branch Road, just north of Shelbyville, reopened last week after being closed since May. The longer-than-anticipated closing was created by a glitch discovered by the contractors, K&K Construction of London, and because AT&T had improperly installed some telephone lines, requiring additional work.
The road also had to be elevated 17 feet, presenting more construction challenges than usual.
Henry said residents in that area had been calling him at the road department to complain about the inconvenience caused by the detour, which sent drivers to Ky. 53 or Ky. 55 via Fox Run Road, covering about seven miles.
Henry said the timing of the opening of Burks Branch Road couldn't have been better.
"I called the Fire Chief to tell him it was open, and not five minutes later they [fire department] had a brush fire and had to go through there," he said.
Emergency vehicles had been able to access the road during the construction, but they had been delayed by the detour.
Shelby County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger said that even though the construction is an inconvenience for people right now, it would be worth it.
"It will ease congestion quite a bit when it is finished," he said.
Clifford said the next phase of construction is already under way at the interchange of Ky. 53.
"This is the last major area in the project," she said. "We [also] will be working on the concrete paving between U.S. 60 and Midland Industrial Trail, and our goal is to have that section completed by the winter.
The last phase of bridge construction will take place on the overpass just north of Ky. 55 at the CSX railroad crossing, where large cranes are visible on the horizon.
Clifford said the latest construction on U.S. 60 will total a distance of about a mile. She added that it would not be necessary to close the road, but that a detour is planned.
Tony McGaha, the engineer in charge of the project, said the detour is not a true detour, more of a diversion, and that it will last about a month.
The detour just goes around where the old roadway was, he said. It really does not go out of the way.