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EARLIER: New bypass completion projection: Labor Day

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By Lisa King

The Shelbyville Bypass, which contractors said in August was about 80 percent complete, may not be finished until the fall of 2010, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers said last week.

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With work wrapping up Nov. 30 for the contract working season, Cabinet officials said 89 working days remain on the state’s agreement with Kay and Kay Contracting of London and that work on the roadway was now officially about 80 percent done. That would mean that, when construction resumes officially on April 1, Kay and Kay would require at least four working months nonstop to finish the roadway before its contract period with the state would end. If construction were to exceed that period, Kay and Kay would owe significant fines for each day work is continued. As has been their habit, officials of Kay and Kay declined to attend a tour of the bypass on Dec. 1 and have not returned repeated phone calls from The Sentinel-News. Matt Looney, a section supervisor for the Frankfort district of the cabinet, who led that tour, along with Andrea Clifford, public information officer for the transportation department’s District 5, and project engineer Jacob Huber, said that this completion projection is based upon the project’s “working day” contract. “It’s [the contract] very weather dependent,” he said. “In a month that’s perfect, which means dry and no rain, the most we can charge is 22 days, so that would be a little over four months. “But with rain and other weather issues, it’s going to be closer to five months, starting April 1. So they [contractors] probably won’t run out of time before Labor Day, and I’m thinking they’ll be done before that.” A “working days” contract allows the contractor to work at its own pace as long as it does so within an agreed number of “working days.” Those days do not include weekends, holidays, inclement weather days or between Dec.1 and April 1. When Kay and Kay began construction, its contract allowed 486 days to finish the project or be subject to significant financial penalties. The pace of those working days, however, lies with the contractor. That’s how 89 days could stretch out until next fall. Construction on the bypass, a 4.5-mile arc that connects KY 55 from its intersection with U.S. 60 west of Shelbyville to the Eminence Pike in the north, began in May 2006. Officials said last December and again in April that they expected the project to be completed in 2009. But an investigation in July by The Sentinel-News revealed that no more than 55 percent of the bypass had been completed  and that it was at least a year from opening. The report revealed that many parts of the roadway were not graded, other sections were lacking concrete and that not many workers were present. Inspired by those stories and editorials, State Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) sought answers from the Transportation Cabinet, and former Secretary Joe Prather admitted in a letter to Montell that the contract for the bypass was a poor one and that progress was not satisfactory. He also scheduled a meeting among local leaders, cabinet officials and the owners of Kay and Kay, who then for the first time answered the public’s questions about why the roadway was so far behind its projected timetable. Kay and Kay owner Bill Robinson cited poor weather and slow response from inspectors as having caused delays. But Robinson said the road was “75-to-80 percent complete.” Tuesday’s season-ending tour revealed that:   Between Aug. 6, when state officials said there were 144 days remaining on the contract, and Nov. 30, Kay and Kay charged 55 days against the contract – out of 116 calendar days during that period. Since the last tour in July, the roadway was paved from end to end and required only minor completion work in some areas. There remains unfinished construction at the five primary intersections: U.S. 60 and KY 55, Harrington Mill Road, KY 53 (Smithfield Road), Burks Branch Road and Eminence Pike (KY 55 North).   Officials satisfied with progress Nevertheless, state officials said they were pleased with what they saw on the tour. “We’re happy with the progress so far,” Clifford said. “They’ve accomplished quite a bit of the mainline paving and just have to finish up the tie-ins [intersections].” Said Looney: “Right now, they’re putting up some of the permanent pavement up on [KY] 53 and doing some small hand pours to get the intersections completed so they can do the turn lanes.” Looney added that traffic may have to be shifted a bit, but there will be no more road closures or detours. “Pretty soon, in a week or two, we’ll be shifting traffic off of where it’s running now, onto the new pavement at Ky. 53 and Warrior Way, so there will be kind of a diversion,” he said. “But nobody will have to go out and around on a different road.” Clifford said that stop lights would be installed at the intersections in the spring. Montell said he is glad the contractors have picked up their pace. “It sounds like Kay and Kay have made good progress since we had the meeting in Frankfort,” he said. “Of course, we have had a lot of good weather since then, but they have really made a good faith effort, and I am pleased with it.

“We’re into December now, and they don’t have to even be working now, but I saw them working at Harrington Mill this morning, and in the rain, too.”