Photo by Lori Chaney
Initial funding for construction of a bridge crossing the railroad tracks in Strunk is a huge step forward in alleviating problems created for motorists and emergency responders when trains block the highway crossing on Mount Pleasant Road. The photo (above) was taken when McCreary County EMS was forced to take a longer and more dangerous route while transporting a one year old child to the hospital.
Highway construction plan addresses several McCreary County road issues
By Eugenia Jones
The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2022-24 Biennial Highway Construction Plan with funding included for projects addressing some of McCreary County’s most pressing transportation issues has been sent to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk for his signature.
Residents, especially in the Mount Pleasant and Strunk areas of McCreary County, can take heart in knowing the plan includes funding for the design and right of way phases of a project designed to construct a bridge between Southern Highway and Murray Wilson RD in Strunk. Construction of the bridge will improve mobility and eliminate safety issues created by Norfolk Southern trains blocking the railroad crossing at Mount Pleasant (HWY 1470 W) for extended periods of time. The Mount Pleasant railroad crossing has been an ongoing source of frustration for motorists who are routinely delayed for lengthy periods of time due to the parked trains. Additionally, emergency responders have experienced difficulty responding to 911 calls in a safe and timely manner. The General Assembly’s plan appropriates $550,000 of state funds in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 for the design phase of the bridge project and an additional $696,000 for the right of way phase in FY2023.
The 2022-24 plan also designates funding for specific phases of additional McCreary County projects, including a project to improve mobility and response time from U.S. 27 to McCreary Central High School. Additional projects with appropriations attached include the construction of turn lanes at the McCreary County Park and Whitley City Elementary School and a preliminary engineering and environmental study to make WKY-92 a scenic route from Monticello to Stearns.
McCreary County’s State Representative Kenneth Upchurch, who is Chairperson of the House Transportation Committee, said the projects are the result of ongoing efforts and work from previous years.
“Some of the projects were in the 2020 road plan,” Upchurch said. “Now, they are moving forward. As long as I remain Chairperson of the House Transportation Committee, I intend for these projects to keep moving forward.”
In addition to projects in the 2022-2024 plan, State Representative Upchurch said McCreary County residents will soon be able to drive on a completed E. HWY 92 from Pine Knot to Williamsburg.
“You can expect blacktopping on the final portion of HWY 92 and completion of that project soon,” Upchurch said. He noted completion of the E HWY 92 construction is expected later this spring or summer.
The 2022-2024 plan appropriates a total of $7,259,000 in state funding for road projects in McCreary County over a three year period from FY 2022-2024. A breakdown of the appropriations for McCreary County reveals appropriations totaling $2,750,000 for the preliminary and design phases of projects in FY2022, $3,340,000 for the design, right of way and construction (bridge) phases of projects in FY2023, and $1,169,000 for the right of way and utility phases of projects in FY2024. Sequentially, stages (phases) of development are: preliminary, design, right of way, utility relocation, and construction.
A comprehensive listing of McCreary County projects (with appropriations) within the 2022-2024 Biennial Highway Construction Plan are as follows:
• Bridge project on Rock Creek Road, $770,000 total for both design and construction in FY2023.
• Bridge project on Jellico Creek Road, $1,122,000 total for both design and construction in FY2023.
• Preliminary engineering and environmental corridor study for improving safety and making KY-92 a scenic route from Monticello to Stearns, $1,500,000 for preliminary phase in FY2022.
• Construction of turn lanes into McCreary County Park and Whitley City Elementary School, $752,000 for right of way phase in FY2023 and $1,053,000 for utilities phase in FY 2024.
• Connectivity and improved mobility and response from US 27 to McCreary Central High School, $700,000 for design phase in FY2022 and $116,000 for right of way phase in FY2024.
• Improved mobility and safety with railroad crossing elimination by constructing bridge between Southern Highway and Murray Wilson Road, $550,000 for design phase in FY 2022 and $696,000 for right of way phase in FY2023.