What we think: The bypass is is now a mirage

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By The Staff

This latest morass with the Shelbyville Bypass – that the seemingly never-ending arc of 4.5 miles engineers now say will require a miracle to open before 2011 – leaves us struggling with all sorts of emotions.

First there is denial.

We can’t conceive that a road so short could stand incomplete after more than 486 authorized days of construction that started in May of 2006.

We can’t conceive that a contractor with which the state does so much business – Kay and Kay Contracting of London – would allow concrete to be poured that did not meet state inspection guidelines.

We can’t believe inspections along the way would not detect such a fundamental factor as how well the iron formation bars are keeping the concrete roadway in place.

We can’t even consider that Kay and Kay ran out of days without having completed the road in the first place. Yes, 486 days from the past 51 months (or roughly 1,684 days).

Second there is anger.

Our citizens, the taxpayers who own this road and whose need for it initiated its construction in the first place and who have put up with the construction process, are being denied access to it for perhaps as much as another six months.

Our citizens deserve better from those we pay for services. We have had to endure a contract that was so faulty that even the state transportation secretary admitted it, and now we don’t have a road to show for it.

Third there is sadness.

Each day thousands of us will drive past what looks like a long and beautiful road all ready for us. We won’t be able to see the flaws or continuing construction. We will see the lights and the lines in place and think this is our roadway that we should be able to use. But we can’t – at least not legally.

And finally there is laughter.

Yes, in the final review, we can laugh at this entire mess and say we expected it. We predicted last spring when construction was renewed that the road wouldn’t be finished this year. The pace of the contractor and the potential for weather interruptions made it a statistical 50-50 to us.

And we laugh hard at the irony that Kay and Kay is having to pay $3,000 a day – that’s every day, not just its precious “working days” – until this job is finished, a job that should have been finished years ago, a job this company contractually milked for all the droplets in the udders of its language.

If you are Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger or Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty, you likely laugh to avoid crying. You need this road for your constituents, you have promised it and your hands have been bound in a nasty knot of ineptness.

We have seen and read about roads to nowhere, bridges that sit without access ramps, slivers of interstate highways not yet joined because of economic and political infighting. We’ve heard of missing links of beltways and dead ends at rivers.

But we never thought we would see this, a short little piece of state road that sat there perfect to the eye but unsafe for vehicular consumption.

We are reminded of travelers lost in the desert, imagining great oceans to quench their thirst, oases full of fruit to fill their bellies, slices of shade to cool their foreheads. They believed these fantasies to be real, and now we have a complete understanding how such psychosis develops.

As you drive down U.S. 60, KY 53 or KY 55 these next weeks and months and see the dark stoplight at an intersection to a roadway marked for use, just ignore it.

That’s your mind playing games with you, not really a completed highway.

There is no relief for you from a late afternoon on Midland Trail, no way to avoid the weave through downtown stoplights, no place for the trucks to go to get out of your way.

We’re not really getting a bypass. We only thought we were.