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A bad connection?

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E'town Council disagrees with redesign of connector road

By Marty Finley

By MARTY FINLEY

mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN — The state recently retooled the proposed design of a connector road slated to run from the U.S. 31W Bypass in Elizabethtown to Ky. 313 in Radcliff – a road designed to alleviate traffic troubles on U.S. 31W.

However, members of Elizabethtown City Council gave a strong thumbs down Monday to the new design, primarily because of the limited access it could create in some neighborhoods and the perceived potential for clogged traffic on roads such as St. John Road.

Councilman Larry Ashlock said it could negate the very purpose it’s trying to serve and push people right back to U.S. 31W.

“I don’t think this is gonna do what they want it to do,” he said.

Two of the affected roads in the design are Cardinal Drive and Johnstown Road, where traffic would be redirected onto the connector. Cardinal Drive in particular would see changes as a portion of the road would become inaccessible. Ashlock said the new plan could hurt businesses in the affected area and would likely leave residents upset.

The revised design, finished in July 2008, was presented to the city in January. The Department of Highways highlighted the need to make some adjustments in an effort to reduce impacts and costs.

The council has not been provided a cost analysis, and Ashlock said he cannot see the justification for the changes unless it saves the state a considerable amount of money.

Future implications of increased traffic on smaller roads need consideration as well, Ashlock said, because reducing the cost of this project could lead to future expenses to offset problems created by this plan.

Councilman Tim Walker also expressed concern with the revised design, including the possibility that emergency services could be affected — and possibly hindered — by the changes.

Planning Director Ed Poppe said one of the main differences between the two designs is the removal of ramps, bridges and transitions within the road, which made the 2005 design vary in elevation.

“The new one puts everything at grade level,” he said.

Poppe said the consistency in elevation and removal of the ramps would likely reduce costs considerably for the state.

Equipped with various access points, the original design fed from Radcliff onto Rineyville Road and Cardinal Drive. Under the new plan, Poppe said, the connector would feed into U.S. 31 Bypass and make the two roads more “seamless” with one another.

The council agreed that certain areas “inside the bypass” would see less traffic, and Poppe said the revised design lessens the overall impact in those neighborhoods.

However, Ashlock said he already has heard from some residents in potentially affected areas who are less than enthusiastic about the new design, specifically for its restricted access.

Ashlock said he believes infrastructure should be designed to give residents a number of options, adding that this plan doesn’t achieve that goal.

The state has requested direct feedback from the city, and Councilman Ron Thomas said the council should weigh in immediately with its concerns.

“We either address it now or address residents later,” he said. Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.