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Long-awaited construction has begun at Exit 32 on Interstate 64 in an effort to make that area a little safer until the interstate widening project begins in full force next spring.
Ryan Watts, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said that Louisville Paving, the contractor for the project, started work Thursday.
“They are reconstructing 32A, and while it is being reconstructed, they have made a left and right off ramp where you can make a left and right turn onto Kentucky fifty-five,” he said. “I think they expect that [construction] to take from two to three months.”
The interchange was made a priority because its eastbound ramp onto I-64 claimed two lives in 2010 and has been the site of numerous harrowing near misses. Its extremely short acceleration lane allows motorists only 295 feet to merge into sometimes very heavy traffic or veer over onto the narrow emergency shoulder.
The $37.5 million widening project, that survived state budget cuts, will address not only the entire KY 55 interchange but also includes the continued widening to six lanes from where previous work ends just east of Simpsonville to Mile Marker 32.8. The interchange remodeling includes the lengthening of all the entrance and exit ramps and widening of the overpass.
State Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) and state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) have both been staying on top of the situation, and Montell said Friday he had talked to traffic engineers to glean the gist of their plan.
“They are going to close [exit] thirty-two A [which sends traffic southbound onto KY 55], and all traffic will use [exit] thirty-two B [northbound exit],” he said. “They are going to do that this weekend. They’re going to route it so that when you get to the top of the ramp, you can turn right or left.
“As far as the ramp that we’re all concerned about, they’re also going to do additional striping this weekend, and the hope is that will give you a clear vision of what your acceleration lane is. Hopefully that will create a certain amount of comfort for folks, letting them know what they have to work with when they get to the bottom of the ramp.”
Montell said people should keep in mind that the roadwork will not be accomplished overnight, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
“Construction takes a while, and I wish it could happen quicker, but I don’t feel like they’re dragging their feet,” he said.
Tony Carriss, magistrate in District 6, also has been keeping tabs on the project, and he said he is gratified that transportation officials are doing their utmost to keep the safety of motorists in mind.
“I am glad that they have made it a priority to get this done as quickly as possible,” he said, “and I’m just happy they understand the importance of the safety of our residents as they travel.”