Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Move Toward Construction of U.S. 68/KY 80 at Land Between the Lakes

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 03, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Announcement includes initial design work to move ahead on new bridges across Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited Lake Barkley today to announce a major move toward construction of a 7.5 mile four-lane section of U.S. 68/KY 80 across the Land-Between-The-Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL). The Governor also announced that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is advertising for a design firm to begin the first phase of work on new bridges to carry the new four-lane across Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.  

“The long-term goal has been to provide a new transportation link that will promote economic growth along the U.S. 68 and KY 80 corridor,” said Governor Fletcher.  “Today’s announcement is an important step in the completion of a vital economic and transportation link for Western Kentucky.  Finishing this route will provide a better connection to the Land-Between-the-Lakes from both the east and the west, enhancing this important tourist attraction and providing a safer corridor through the region.”

The Governor and Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert announced the transportation cabinet will speed the move toward construction of 7.5 miles of a new four –lane road across LBL by using a design-build approach.

“We are preparing the necessary documentation to advertise for a design build contract for the reconstruction of 7.5 miles of U.S. 68 from bridge to bridge through the LBL,” Secretary Nighbert said. “The estimated cost of this highway improvement project is approximately $50 million. KYTC’s goal is to have the design-build contract awarded by Spring 2007.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet design team has worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration to create a context sensitive design that takes into account the unique area the new road will pass through.

“Our goal has been to design a highway specifically with the LBL and surrounding countryside along the route in mind,” said Chief District Engineer Jim LeFevre.  ”Through landscaped grass medians, separating opposing lanes with woodland area, use of alternative natural guardrail materials, earthworks shaped to resemble natural landforms, and concrete designed with the appearance of natural stone, we hope to create a roadway that is safe and efficient, as well as sensitive to the unique character of the LBL.”

The route will include a separate hike and bike path from Aurora to Cadiz that runs parallel to the main roadway.

Governor Fletcher also announced that the Transportation Cabinet is advertising for a consultant to begin design work on a new structure to replace the existing Henry H. Lawrence Memorial Bridge at Canton across Lake Barkley and the Cumberland River and a replacement for the existing Eggner’s Ferry Bridge across Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River at Aurora.  The bridges will provide a new eastern and western entrance to LBL, allowing tourists an alternate access to one of Kentucky’s most popular attractions.

“The selected consultant’s contract will initially be for a bridge type study, and upon final selection of the bridge type, final plans will be prepared for both bridges,” Secretary Nighbert said.  “The estimated construction cost of the two bridges is approximately $200 million.  KYTC’s goal is to have the consultant team selected and under contract by early 2007.”

The two existing bridges were built in 1932.

Area legislators say the announcement of this major step ahead on the U.S. 68/KY 80 Corridor has been long awaited.

“These projects will provide a much needed boost to the region,” said Rep. Melvin Henley (R-Murray). “This much-needed transportation link will be celebrated from Hopkinsville to Mayfield and beyond. It will open up a new east-west transportation corridor that will benefit our business and industry all along the 68/80 corridor. And it will make it easier for our tourists to visit the lakes area.”

“I can’t imagine another project that has as much potential to impact the economy, tourism and quality of life in this region.  I think it is beyond our comprehension,” said Sen. Ken Winters (R-Murray). “It is seldom that a project comes along that can change the whole vitality of a region like this initiative.  We are pleased that the Governor is aggressively supporting this corridor project.”

“I want to compliment Governor Fletcher, his administration, Secretary Nighbert and the Transportation Cabinet for their efforts to develop Kentucky’s critical transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. Fred Nesler (D-Mayfield). “The Governor has been committed to economic development.  Moving ahead on these long-planned projects is evidence of that commitment.  As a Kentuckian and as a legislator, I appreciate this move forward for Kentucky and the Lakes Region.”

“I’m excited about the possibility this project has for the economic development of Christian and Trigg Counties,” said Rep. James Carr (R-Hopkinsville). “Strengthening economic development opportunities increases our tax base without increasing our tax rate.”

The new U.S. 68/KY 80 corridor is expected to be built in about five sections, plus the new bridges across Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.  The cost of just over 17 miles of roadway from Aurora to Cadiz is estimated at $150 million, not including the bridges.  The new highway is an effort to improve safety, enhance transportation and promote economic development across western Kentucky.

The U.S. Forest Service, which manages LBL, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have cooperated to prepare the Finding of No Significant Impact and Section 4(F) document, which is in the final stages of approval by the Federal Highway Administration.