After seven years of planning, design, engineering and land acquisitions, the city has only five more small land parcels to purchase before the Olivet Church Road project can be bid and construction can begin.
The widening of Olivet Church Road, which will ease traffic problems on Interstate 24 and enhance connectivity in the Kentucky Oaks Mall area, has been a top priority for both the city and county since 2006.
Negotiations with land owners and funding issues stalled the project several times, but a recent number of land purchases have left the right-of-way and utility relocation portion of the project about 87 percent complete. Out of the 38 lots, five parcels are left, city engineer Rick Murphy said.
"It feels really good to have the end in sight after many, many years," Mayor Gayle Kaler said. "Many elected officials have worked on this. It's great to see the progress that will happen, which will lead to a better flow of traffic. Having the road widened - it's dangerous there, no shoulders - is going to be a huge improvement."
Murphy said the first signs of utility relocation are beginning. Several trees have been removed to accommodate new Paducah Power Systems electric lines. The spots for new power poles have been marked, Murphy said. The Joint Sewer Agency is also slated to begin a sewer relocation project soon.
"I can be acquiring property while we are actively relocating utilities, so by the time we open the project up to bid everything is clear," Murphy said. "We are in a good place now."
Four of the small sections of land still to acquire are along the existing Olivet Church Road, near the area of Pace Drive and Tuck Road. A fifth will be divided by the new, five-lane access road that will connect Olivet Church Road and New Holt Road.
The project is meant to widen Olivet Church Road to three lanes between James-Sanders Boulevard and Hinkleville Road. There is also a five-lane access road, which will connect Olivet Church to New Holt, and plans to re-design the New Holt Road access intersection to the mall.
The state allotted $8.5 million for the project. About $2 million of that was allocated for right-of-way and utility relocation. Murphy said the city has spent about $1.1 million.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.
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