If it seems like work to get KY 92W in McCreary County realigned has taken, well, forever to get completed, then you aren’t real far off.
Whitley County resident Andy Meadors remembers speaking in 1976 at a public hearing about the subject, which was held at the Whitley County Public Library.
“Glen Cary was the district engineer at Manchester. Foster Lane was the mayor of Williamsburg,” Meadors recalls. “I distinctly remember because I was one of the ones that spoke at it. In that day and time, they had three alternate routes that they were looking at to get across the mountain to get on the Jellico Creek side.”
“They had a public hearing on it, and I was kind of opposed to one of the routes. The other two didn’t bother me. I put together a little speech on
my rationale on why I thought it ought to go this way.”
Meadors admits that he never thought he would see the project completed during his life time, but he did start to get some hope when the Whitley County portion of the roadway was realigned about a decade ago.
Meadors was one of about three dozen people on hand Tuesday afternoon for a ground breaking ceremony for the $39.2 million project that is expected to be completed in 2021.
Local legislators and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials gathered Tuesday along the side of KY 92W near the Whitley County-McCreary County line for the ground breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction to realign a portion of the road.
Once the project is completed, drivers will experience a much improved corridor between the two counties and better access to I-75.
“The realignment of KY 92 received overwhelming support at the local level as a key project identified through the SHIFT prioritization process the Cabinet instituted last year,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas. “We are pleased to see this project continue to move forward and for the nearly eight miles of improvements to safely move people and goods through the region.”
The two-lane route, which connects the towns of Whitley City and Williamsburg, will see a safer, more efficient roadway necessary to accommodate the level of commercial and vehicle traffic projected in the future.
“I am excited to finally see this project begin the last stage of completion. It has been a long time coming,” said Rep. Ken Upchurch. “The economic impact to McCreary County cannot be quantified but we know it opens up all kinds of possibilities for tourism and economic development. I look forward to seeing what the future holds as this gateway is completed.”
Senator Max Wise echoed a similar sentiment of celebration and accomplishment for the upcoming project.
“I am very excited for McCreary County and the entire region,” Wise said. “I believe the improvements to KY 92 will help tremendously with economic development, job growth and tourism to the region. I was happy to work with my house colleagues in making sure this project stayed in the road plan.”
While adding turn lanes at some intersections, wider shoulders and additional truck climbing lanes will improve mobility and connectivity, eliminating low over-passes will improve safety for commercial trucks.
“It’s been a long time coming, but the groundbreaking for the reconstruction of KY 92 is finally here,” Rep. Regina Huff said in a news release. “Projects like these are of vital importance in order for the region to grow and develop. In addition, the reconstruction will provide better and safer access to employment, educational services and health care. For those reasons, it has been worth the wait.”
“I’m thrilled to see the start of this much needed road project on KY 92,” Senator Robert Stivers also said in a press release. “Whitley County and the entire region will no doubt benefit greatly from this infrastructure upgrade.”
Neither Bunch nor Stivers was present for Tuesday’s ceremony.
Transportation cabinet spokesperson Amber Hale said that the contractors have already started mobilizing their equipment, and the utility companies are still working on some projects.
Some contractors have already started moving some dirt, but Hale said the traveling public might not see much activity for a while because the current alignment is different than what the finished alignment will look like.
“Next spring they will start seeing a whole lot more activity coming into the current alignment. It is here. It is coming. It has been awarded to Hinkle Contracting Services. They are moving in and they are getting started on it,” Hale noted.
Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. thanked everyone for coming to Tuesday’s ceremony.
“I appreciate all the hard work by the General Assembly and the governor to get this project finally moving along,” White noted.