DRAFFENVILLE – Revisions of the entrances to the Marshall County High School campus from U.S. highways 68 and 641 will not be complete by the time schools starts on Aug. 7, but school officials say they expect no problems.
“Our goal was to try to minimize the impact on school traffic on Aug. 7,” said Mike McGregor, Transportation Cabinet chief engineer for District 1. “We’re not going to make that deadline.”
However, work on High School Road, which runs between the two U.S. highways, should be sufficiently complete that traffic will be able to run normally, according to Russ Buchanan, information officer for Marshall County Schools.
“The new entrance from 68 should have the under-layer of asphalt for sure, and possibly the finish coat,” Buchanan said. The west side entrance from U.S. 641 “will be about like it is right now,” Buchanan said.
The intersection at U.S. 68 is being relocated to create a four-way intersection. The entrance to Eagle Lake subdivision is across the highway from the new terminus of High School Road.
“As it stands right now,” Buchanan said Friday, “we shouldn’t have to change any of our bus routing.”
The traffic flow might be affected if workers are actively engaged in completion of the widening of the highways to include turning lanes, Buchanan said.
“We’ll play it by ear as we get closer to the time” for school to open, he said. “If it looks like there might be delays, I will make an automated call to all numbers in our system” advising staff, faculty and students who use personal vehicles, Buchanan said.
McGregor cited some unexpected problems with soil wetness in the preparation work, plus a few issues with acquisition of right-of-way and relocation of utilities, that have put the work on highways 68 and 641 behind schedule.
“There’s always some obstacles that you have to get over,” he said. “We may be two or three weeks behind.”
McGregor’s comments about the high school access road connections came in an address at the monthly Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Wednesday at Majestic restaurant.
McGregor summed up highway projects that are in progress or will be under way soon in the 12 westernmost counties that make up District 1.
The major projects are those involved with the conversion of the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway into Interstate 69.
McGregor addressed the hot-button topic of the intersection of I-24 and the parkway, which must be brought up to federal Interstate Highway standards. However, there has been strong criticism of early plans for the revamping that include deleting the last mile of the parkway, a heavily-traveled segment that connects the interstate to Calvert City at U.S. 62 about a mile north of the interchange.
McGregor said the interchange is the biggest project in the I-69 corridor conversion work, with the exception of a bridge over the Ohio River near Henderson.
Another intersection in Marshall County, where Highway 348 crosses the Purchase Parkway on the west side of Benton, will have to be revamped. McGregor said $7.5 million has been budgeted for that project.
Highway 348 is Fifth Street in Benton, which is scheduled for a major widening and renovation in a $4.5 million project. That work will fit into the revised interchange on both sides, extending westward into a new entrance to Marshall County Hospital.
“It wouldn’t be a bad thing if we let the contract for the interchange and deal with that and then move into the widening project,” McGregor said.
Work will begin soon on another project, a $3 million project to install cable barriers in the median of Interstate 24 in McCracken, Marshall and Christian counties.
The barriers are designed to prevent vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic in opposing lanes.
Completion of that installation is scheduled in October and work should begin soon, McGregor said.
The most expensive project is the replacement for the Eggners Ferry Bridge, a $160 million effort that is already under way. The new bridge will carry traffic on U.S. 68 and Highway 80 across Kentucky Lake between Marshall and Trigg counties.
A connecting bridge across a lagoon on the Marshall County side is almost complete, McGregor said, along with the causeway that will connect to the new bridge structure.
Traffic is to be rerouted to the new bridge by late November or early December 2015, he said.