Each day up to 9,000 drivers navigate the twists and turns of North Friendship Road. The popular thoroughfare, which connects two highways - Lone Oak Road and Blandville Road - is driven by both locals and visitors. But the tight curves and shoulderless road could get a makeover in the next decade.
Paducah's Inner Loop project is still in the planning phase, but final design could be completed in four years and a new road could be operational in 10. The project would widen the existing North Friendship Road, easing some of the hairpin turns and the blinding hills, and making room for shoulders. The need is there, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says, especially after more high profile projects have been popping up in the western parts of the county.
"There's the new high school, Teletech and Superior Care building in the Commerce Park, so there are more people that need to get out there," Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Wilson said. "This is one of the areas that we've identified as having safety issues as well."
The Chamber added the Inner Loop project to its priority projects list, which identifies important projects in the area that require funding. It is one of four roads projects on the list, and is the only one without any funding in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Roads Plan. Any funding the Chamber could drum up would be used for planning and engineering, Wilson said.
The project itself isn't designed yet, although the KYTC presented several different potential ideas at a public meeting last summer. Although there has been no decision to construct a new portion of road or to make improvements to the existing road, whichever route the KYTC takes would include widening the lanes, adding shoulders and lessening the curve at Seneca Lane, which is nearly 90 degrees. North Friendship Road currently has no shoulders.
"If you're on a road without good, wide shoulders, you're going to lose control of your car if you veer off the roadway," McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden said. "The shoulders on that road could be better. We work accidents out there, especially when there's bad weather."
Of the options that are being considered, one would add a third turning lane into the middle to better allow drivers to turn while keeping traffic flowing.
The project heads into preliminary design next, before final design decisions are made and the transportation cabinet will then begin working on securing the right of way and working with utility companies. The construction is estimated to take two years before the road would be operational.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.