Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer
An expansion of U.S. Highway 641 South may soon come to fruition.
When funding becomes available, the eight mile stretch of highway between Murray, Kentucky and Hazel, Kentucky will be expanded to four lanes.
Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins said he estimates the cost of this project to be $40 million.
“The funding for this project will have to come from state transportation funds and as it is a designated federal highway, there’s a small percentage of the funds that will be federal funds,” Elkins said.
Elkins said money contributed to the project so far is between $1 and 1.5 million. This is federal money being used for site improvements on the existing highway.
Elkins said the primary reason an expansion is needed is safety.
“It’s one of the most dangerous highways in the region,” Elkins said.
According to the Highway 641 Steering Committee Meeting Minutes from Aug. 2, a traffic accident history report from a five year and a 10 year search was presented. The information was gathered from a Kentucky data portal and the statistics are based between Glendale Road and the Tennessee border.
According to the report, over the course of 10 years, 66 injury accidents, 213 without injury and 7 fatalities were reported. Not all accidents occurred on the highway, but they occurred near.
In 2018 the state legislature will release the next two-year budget. Elkins said he wants those forming that budget to be familiar with the project and why it is needed, so funding can possibly be put toward it.
Besides the safety issues related to the highway, Elkins said an expansion will produce other benefits.
“We believe that above the safety issues, that the four lane road between Murray and Paris would be a tremendous economic benefit to our community,” Elkins said. “The better the road, the easier it is for people to go back and forth.”
If the project moves forward, Elkins said he estimates it to take 5-10 years to complete.