KYTC seeks public comment on Gene Snyder widening plan

Gene Snyder Freeway

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In a bid to save time and money, Kentucky transportation officials are combining four large interstate construction projects in Jefferson and Oldham counties.

The venture, called I-Move Kentucky, involves road work that’s already been approved, including rebuilding the Interstate 64 interchange at the Gene Snyder Freeway, widening the Snyder and I-71, and adding a new lane at the Snyder and I-71.

In all, the work is expected to cost no more than $180 million, according to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet estimates. The project would start this fall and finish in 2023, or about three years earlier than previously thought.

Kentucky state highway engineer Andy Barber said the project would “reduce congestion, increase safety and greater mobility that’s going to fuel economic development and quality of life for the greater Louisville region and throughout the Commonwealth.”

He also predicted fewer construction delays because the work won’t be done in the “traditional one-piece-at-a-time approach.”

The state is using a new method authorized by the Kentucky legislature last year that allows large projects of up to $300 million to be done using the “design-build” approach. That lets one entity do the design and construction work.

For the interstate project announced Friday, state officials plan to set a cap of $180 million and ask competing firms to submit “add-on” work that also can be wrapped into the total cost, said Matt Bullock, the Transportation Cabinet’s chief engineer for Louisville.

“The expectation is that we’re going to get some more things within our budget amount, which is $180 million,” he said.

The individual projects are: 

-Widening I-71 from four to six lanes in both directions, from the Gene Snyder Freeway to Ky. 329 in Crestwood

-Widening the Snyder from four to six lanes in both directions, from Taylorsville Road and I-71

-Rebuilding the I-64/Snyder interchange

-Adding a separate lane on I-71 South to improve access to and from the Snyder

Sen. Ernie Harris, an Oldham County Republican who chairs the Kentucky Senate’s transportation committee, said “all this is going to be wrapped up” in the two-year state spending plan that the legislature will approve next year.

The current plan, which expires next June, includes nearly $59 million for the four projects.

The work is the latest example of spending on highways in the Louisville area. The state also is studying an interstate-style bypass between I-71 and I-65 in Bullitt County.

Those are in contrast to less expensive efforts in Louisville that prioritize “complete streets,” such as renovations to Dixie Highway in southwestern Jefferson County, said Chris Glasser, executive director of Bicycling for Louisville.

Glasser, who has raised concerns about the proposed bypass, said the state’s focus on interstate work invariably will lead to suburban sprawl.

"The projects they're pursuing and putting money into are these highway expansion projects that cost hundreds of millions of dollars in the suburbs of Jefferson and Oldham counties," he said.

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.

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Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation, development and local and state government.