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Olivet Church Road widening plan progresses

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

The Olivet Church Road widening project is gaining ground.

The Paducah City Commission has purchased another portion of right-of-way and public utility easement at 3400 Olivet Church Road in the amount of $3,400.

Paducah City Engineer Rick Murphy told the commission during its meeting Tuesday that although six small parcels remain to be purchased, that would not impede the work of the Paducah Power System to relocate electrical lines and power poles.

"They are removing trees. Pole locations have been marked," Murphy said. "We will slowly pursue them (right-of-way and easements), but we are focusing our immediate attention to the utility relocation part of the project."

The McCracken Joint Sewer Authority is expected to begin relocating sanitary sewer mains and service lines soon, with all utility relocation to be completed by mid-summer, Murphy stated.

The state has allocated $2 million for all right-of-way purchases and utility relocation for the widening project, which will be reimbursed to the city. Murphy expects the city will spend about $1.2 million for right-of-way acquisitions and use the remaining $800,000 for utility relocation. The total cost of purchasing the six remaining parcels will be between $15,000 and $18,000.

By widening Olivet Church Road, the city hopes to ease traffic congestion on Interstate 24 and enhance access to the Kentucky Oaks Mall area.

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 total cost is estimated at $8.5 million.

Also during its meeting Tuesday, the Paducah City Commission approved an ordinance to abolish the Paducah Main Street Department and the Paducah Renaissance Alliance (PRA) Advisory Board and instead create a Main Street Board of Directors. 

The city has been working since December to reorganize the responsibilities and find the best use of limited resources for the Main Street Department.

Since that time, the Parks Department hired Molly Tomasallo as a special events coordinator to plan and coordinate all major events and activities sponsored by the city, including the Farmers' Market. Melinda Winchester has been named the city's downtown development specialist within the Planning Department. 

The board will assist with the Main Street accreditation process; coordinate with Winchester; participate in planning and awareness campaigns, and form citizen and volunteer committees as necessary.

Five people will be appointed to the Main Street Board of Directors. 

In other matters, the commission:

n Introduced an ordinance to refinance the 2010 Build America Bonds bonds originally issued in March 2010.  At that time, the city issued a 20-year, $6.645 million bond to pay for projects including the Greenway Trail, the replacement of the Noble Park parking lot, and the purchase of the Executive Inn, to name a few. 

Finance Director Jonathan Perkins said the net savings for refinancing the bond will be $210,000 in interest over the life of the loan. 

The remaining principal on the bond is approximately $5.765 million.  The bonds will be sold May 27.

n Agreed to apply for a $200,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority's States Economic Development Assistance Program.  If approved, the funds would be used to assist small business owners located or looking to locate downtown.

Funds could be used to expand the existing roof stabilization program as well as provide financial aid for other redevelopment of historic buildings for commercial use.

n Gave approval for the Paducah Police Department to apply for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Accountability Grant in the amount of $13,117 to purchase five mobile radios for police cruisers. These radios will replace ones that are obsolete and no longer serviceable. The police department has also allocated $1,241 from its operating budget toward the purchase.

n Accepted a Kentucky Office of Highway Safety grant for $21,000 to be used by Paducah police to continue the "Heads Up Don't be In'text'icated" program. In 2007, Hillary Coltharp was seriously injured in a collision on Interstate 24 caused by her texting while driving. The program began in 2012 as a partnership between the Coltharp family and the police department to bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving and has since been presented to at least 4,000 people.

n Appointed Marty Bendick to the Civil Service Commission. His term expires May 13, 2017.

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