Southern loop road on fast track as study out for bids

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE -- A project to build a loop road from Interstate 65 to Interstate 71 is on the fast track to getting started.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget included $2 million for a study on the road.

Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts announced on Tuesday that a request for proposal for the study has been let and the deadline to submit quotes will be May 30.

The notice to proceed will be given by Aug. 10, 2018, with the final report due by Oct. 2, 2019.

John Snider, executive director of the Bullitt County Economic Development Authority, and Keith Griffee, Bullitt County’s chief finance office, worked on a proposal to relieve some traffic on Highway 44 and to lessen some of the traffic congestion for the entire region.

In working with legislators, the proposal was to have the loop road run from Interstate 65, go through Spencer County and have a connection with I-64 in Shelby County. The final portion would go from I-64 to I-71 in Oldham County.

Snider said this is a major accomplishment to have the project move so quickly. However, he said the past two governors have been very pro-business and understand the return on the investment for this project.

Besides offering a transportation route locally, Snider said that it would help keep northbound traffic away from Louisville if travelers and truckers are looking for a way to reach either I-64 or I-71.

Griffee said the project has been in the works for about 18 months.

He was amazed how quickly the funding for the study was approved.

“This is the quickest I’ve seen a study put out,” said Snider.

Snider felt one reason for the quick response by the governor’s office was that it was a regional solution to traffic congestion in Jefferson and surrounding counties.

During the fiscal court meeting, state Rep. Russell Webber and state Rep. James Tipton were praised for their efforts in Frankfort.

“It is exciting,” said Webber, who said it took a lot of effort in Frankfort, where teamwork isn’t always the easiest thing to find.

Webber said in his six years in Frankfort he had not see a project move forward so quickly.

He’s noticed that Bevin will support projects which will eventually pay for themselves.

With the study moving quickly, Webber said he hoped it would be ready when President Trump started investing federal dollars in projects which made financial sense.

A push for the project occurred when Bullitt Fiscal Court, the cities of Mount Washington and Shepherdsville, as well as KIPDA, provided some funding for the study.

He said it was critical to see that local agencies had some “skin in the game.”

Tipton said he knows that Highway 44 is still a major concern. But, he said the study will be more than simply the loop road.

He felt it would provide some ways that congestion on Highway 44 would be alleviated.

While he’s not sure if he will ever get to drive on the new road, Tipton said it presents a lot of opportunities for several counties.

“It’s a regional project,” said Tipton. “The governor believes in a return on investment.”

In a prior study, a bridge over the Salt River was part of a project to alleviate traffic on Highway 44.

Webber said he wasn’t aware of any new discussion on the bridge idea. However, he said that is the goal of the study — to show what could happen to improve traffic flow.