Preparations for the widening of State Highway 121 from North 12th Street to Bailey Road have begun with the relocation of utility lines to accommodate the construction of what will become a new five-lane highway.
Contractors Salmon Construction and ElectriCom LLC were issued a Notice to Proceed Marth 17 with an allotted six-month timeframe to complete the moving of water and gas utilities along this stretch of road on behalf of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Peyton Mastera, project administrator for the city of Murray, said while the relocation of city-owned utilities may be completed by October, the relocation of electric and telephone lines along the stretch of road will likely take a year to a year and a half, but he’s hopeful that by this time next spring the construction contract for the project will have been awarded.
“It’s an incredibly busy thorough fair right now having the Murray State campus at that location and with the expansion of Highway 80 and the development of roads on that side of town,” Mastera said. “Overall it’s something that’s going to support future growth coming into Murray and for any future development: residential or University related and will support the traffic on that side of town.”
He said the expansion of State Highway 121 has been on the state’s highway plan for approximately 15 years.
He said as soon as the relocation of utilities is complete, construction should be able to begin immediately.
The Murray City Council unanimously agreed to accept $1,637,141 given by the KYTC for the altering of State Highway 121 in January.
These funds and the Highway 121 Five Lane Project were made possible by the passing of House Bill 267 by Kentucky’s House legislators in March 2012. The bill allocated $3.5 billion budget for major roadwork and construction plans across the state, approximately $15 million of which went to Murray-Calloway County to use for projects between 2012-14.
When completed, the road from 12th Street to Gilbert Graves Drive will be five lanes and from Gilbert Graves Drive onward, the road will be four lanes with a divided median.
The project also includes relocation of overhead lines to underground and the installation of decorative traffic signals and decorative light poles and fixtures.
Kim Oatman, chief Facilities Management officer, said the widening of the highway, including the reallocation of utilities, will affect traffic in that area.
He said road construction is difficult to complete without some type of impact on traffic and the adjoining properties near the highway.
“Motorists will have to follow the traffic control signs and markings and at times motorists may have to follow the guidance of flagmen,” he said. “Motorists may have to drive on rough surfaces and merge from one lane to another. It will be inconvenient at times, but it will be worth it in the end as the final project will bring about great improvements to traffic flow and the aesthetics of the area.”
Oatman said while Murray State been assured by KYTC that its construction contractors will be required to keep lanes of traffic passable in both directions throughout the project and that access to the University’s properties will be maintained especially in regard to the CFSB Center and Heritage Hall.
Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor