Fayette County’s population is expected to grow by 33 percent by 2040.
Jessamine County, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years, could grow as much as 40 percent in the same time period.
And southern Fayette County and northern Jessamine County’s road systems can’t handle that much traffic.
A recent survey of more than 340 residents showed 76 percent agreed that traffic improvements are needed now.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization have developed several possible options to help improve connectivity and safety between the two rapidly growing counties.
Brian Aldridge, an engineer with Stantec, a consulting firm hired to help with the study, said the group has four different concepts that could improve traffic flow in the study area between Nicholasville Road and Interstate 75, south of Man o‘ War Boulevard and north of the Kentucky River.
“These are just ideas,” Aldridge stressed in a public meeting Thursday night at the East Jessamine County Middle School.
“We have a lot of roadways that are not built to handle the current traffic,” Aldridge said.
Improvements to Union Mill Road
The first concept includes improving Ky. 169, or Union Mill Road, in some places by widening the road and adding shoulders. In addition, the proposal includes building a new road that would intersect with Tates Creek Road north of Spears Road and connect to an improved Crawley Lane and Jack’s Creek Road. That project would cost $40.1 million.
That proposal would accommodate current traffic levels on those roads and could carry an additional 18,000 cars a day, according to the study estimates.
New interchange, access to Interstate 75
The improvements in that area would also allow for constructing a new interchange and entrance at mile marker 101 on Interstate 75, near the current Richmond Road exit. Some realignment of Old Richmond Road would be necessary to construct the new interstate entrance. The cost of that project would be $25 million.
Easier access to Interstate 75 was a chief concern of residents in the area.
Widen East Hickman Road, realignment of Delong Road
To improve north-south connectivity in the area, the third proposal is to widen parts of East Hickman Road and slightly realign it to address some 90-degree turns in the roadway. The proposal also includes a slight realignment of Delong Road onto Tates Creek Road for better sight lines. Tates Creek Road in that area would be widened until the section that reaches Ethel Road, which is already improved. The cost would be $15.5 million.
Aldridge stressed Thursday the realignment of East Hickman to eliminate or minimize the curves is just a concept. No specific route has been picked.
Lengthen Brannon Road
The fourth idea is to lengthen Brannon Road to Old Richmond Road. That 4.2-mile section of road would cost approximately $33.1 million.
“No route has been chosen,” Aldridge said Thursday. The extension of Brannon Road would be a long-term project to deal with future traffic growth in that area.
“All the concepts build off each other,” Aldridge said.
Small fixes to help with traffic congestion
Four additional spot improvements — to address specific traffic issues — could include:
Adding a left and right turn lane on Old Richmond Road at the Jacks Creek Pike intersection. Cost: $500,000.
Adding a left and right turn lane on Old Richmond Road at the Delong Road intersection. Cost:$500,000.
A minor realignment of Delong Road west of Old Richmond Road to address three curves in the road. Between 2016 and 2019, there were 13 crashes in the area. Of the 13, 10 were single-vehicle crashes, and three resulted in injuries. Cost: $1.5 million.
A realignment of Delong Road between Walnut Hill and Colliver Lane to address several sharp curves and a narrow bridge. Between 2016 and 2019, there were 26 crashes reported in that area. Of those 26 crashes, 17 were single-vehicle crashes, and 10 resulted in injuries. Cost: $3.2 million.
Len Harper, a consultant with Stantec, said an online survey requesting feedback on the various proposals will be posted for more than a month. The group will come back with final recommendations later this fall. The survey and an overview of the study proposals can be found at JessFayStudy.com.
Paper surveys were also given to residents during Thursday’s meeting.
Harper stressed the effort is only in the planning stage. Money for the design and construction of any solution has not been allocated. Funding for major road projects can take years, sometimes decades.
The eastern portion of the U.S. 27 bypass has still not been constructed. However, state highway officials hope money will be allocated for one section of the eastern bypass sometime next year. The eastern portion of the bypass has been discussed for more than two decades.