Road realignment moves forward

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Cardinal Drive reconfiguration to impact HMH parking lot

By Marty Finley

A proposal to realign Cardinal Drive in Elizabethtown to meet Diecks Drive at Dixie Avenue is moving toward the property acquisition phase.

Officials said the retooled roadway will better accommodate traffic spilling off Patriot Parkway — the new Radcliff connector road — while providing space for an expanded emergency room at Hardin Memorial Hospital.

City Engineer Scott Reynolds said Elizabethtown is in the process of hiring an engineer for the project, which will shape the timeline for construction.

“It may be six months; it may be a year,” Reynolds said. “We don’t know.”

Once chosen, the city can start purchasing needed properties to accommodate the realignment. No full purchases of properties will be made but rather parcels of rights-of-way, Reynolds said.

He does not anticipate the realignment impacting or hampering local business, but the city will have to enter a partnership agreement with HMH to acquire a portion of its outdoor parking lot adjacent to its parking garage. That land is required to smooth out a curve in the reconfigured road.

Reynolds said Woodland Drive will no longer access Dixie Avenue near the hospital once the road aligns because the connector will be removed. State Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, said that portion of Woodland Drive will remain intact  to provide access for local homeowners.

Judge-Executive Harry Berry, who serves as chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, said HMH recognizes the value of the realignment and is willing to give up the parking spaces, which he said is “nothing to sneeze at” because of the challenges of finding additional parking.

At the same time, he said, the project benefits HMH because it needs space to expand the ER as it undergoes a renovation. Berry also believes the realignment will provide better access to the ER.

The realignment was identified as a priority more than a decade ago as the local Metropolitan Planning Organization and the city studied traffic patterns. Reynolds said it started as a drainage project but has developed into a fully established realignment.

“It’s been on our radar for a long time,” Reynolds said.

Berry said authorization and allocation of money for the Elizabethtown-to-Radcliff connector, known now as Patriot Parkway, opened discussion for ancillary projects, one of which was the realignment.

Reynolds said the city already has entered an agreement to be reimbursed by the state for right-of-way costs and a preliminary design has been completed. A rough estimate of construction costs was set at $2.3 million.

Lee said around $4 million has been appropriated and ready for use at the state level — money available in excess of the millions spent to build Patriot Parkway and other BRAC-related projects.

“It’s almost a necessity that (the realignment) is completed” as Patriot Parkway is finished, Lee said.

The project also is important because the state does not want traffic from Patriot Parkway to pour onto Woodland Drive but rather it be directed down a city street large enough to accommodate the flow and avoid any bottlenecks, Lee said.

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.