Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Completes Study of New U.S. 641 Corridor in Caldwell and Lyon
Paducah, KY – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways has completed a corridor study for the location of the new U.S. 641 from Fredonia to Eddyville.
Meetings were held with the public, local officials and community leaders over the course of the study to receive input on the project. Fourteen routes were considered. Following an initial screening process, eight alternates were selected for more detailed evaluation.
According to District One Transportation Engineer Branch Manager for Pre-Construction Tim Choate, planners are recommending that the route follow old U.S. 641 as closely as possible as it heads south from Fredonia.
“After coming around the west side of Fredonia, the corridor South of Fredonia shifts east to more closely follow the alignment of present-day US. 641,” Choate said. “It connects with the existing right of way southwest of the Fredonia Quarry. The corridor alignment also provides better access to the West Park Industrial Park and the Fredonia Quarry to move truck traffic more quickly to the new four-lane,” Choate said.
Utilizing some of the existing U.S. 641 right-of-way between Fredonia and Eddyville also helped minimize the impact on farmland and wildlife habitat along the 9.5 mile route.
“Any portions of the old U.S. 641 that do not get incorporated into the new road will remain for local traffic or become a frontage road,” Choate said.
When the road reaches Eddyville, planners concluded that the new U.S. 641 should connect with the Wendall Ford West Kentucky Parkway at Exit 4. Choate notes that taking the new road directly to the parkway is only about 1.5 miles east of the present U.S. 641 intersection with U.S. 62 at Eddyville.
“From a system standpoint, the study found that going to Exit 4 on the parkway was the best alternative because it gets traffic into the four-lane system more quickly,” Choate said. “It also saves some $25 million or more that it would cost to go five miles to the west to connect directly with Interstate 24 West of Eddyville.”
With plans calling for I-69 and I-66 to eventually travel down the Wendall Ford West Kentucky Parkway, Choate says having the new U.S. 641 connected directly to the four-lane system meant more efficient traffic flow.
“From a system standpoint, this provides a better system flow by tying the new four-lane into the parkway rather than tie it into 62 and having to make several turns and go through additional intersections to get on the parkway or to connect to I-24,” Choate said. “When I-69 and I-66 are routed down the parkway this will provide an even more critical link tying Marion and Fredonia directly into an interstate network.”
Estimated cost of design and construction of the new four-lane is $91 million. That is in addition to an estimated $44 million for the 5.6 mile section in Crittenden County. The transportation cabinet recently approved $3.5 million to begin purchase of right-of-way on the section from Marion to the Crittenden-Caldwell County line at Fredonia.
Long-term, Chief District Engineer Ted Merryman says the new U.S. 641 from Marion to Eddyville will tie into additional improvements along U.S. 60 north of Marion toward Henderson. A four-lane section from Morganfield to Henderson is currently in design phase.
Merryman says the next step toward building the Fredonia to Eddyville section of U.S. 641 is getting it into the design phase.
“We’ll be doing aerial photography along about a 2000 foot corridor from Fredonia to Exit Four on the parkway,” Merryman said. “That will include photography of the existing 641 alignment. We’ll design a couple of alternates within that corridor. We won’t be able to tell how much of existing U.S. 641 will be used until we get farther along in the process.”
Near the present U.S. 641 entrance to the West Kentucky Correctional Center the new road would veer east of the existing alignment to skirt the prison complex and follow the edge of the new industrial park. Merryman says the design will take into account comments of corrections officials who voiced concern about having the new road run too close to the correctional facility.
Tim Choate emphasizes it will be about a year before the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has preliminary design proposals that could be offered for public input.
“The six year plan has roughly $1.5 million earmarked for design work on the Caldwell/Lyon County section in 2005, but that expenditure has not been authorized yet. Right of way, utilities and construction work could be added to the six year plan that will come out of the 2006 legislature,” Choate said.
A complete copy of the final report for the study is available on the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s website at: