Friday, November 5, 2004

Widening needed, reaction cool



By Andrea Remke
Enquirer staff writer

ALEXANDRIA - The busiest road in Campbell County is getting an upgrade, as work started this week on a new stretch of U.S. 27.

Transportation Cabinet District 6 announced the 3.9-mile road will run from Ky. 536 to Racetrack Road, parallel to the old U.S. 27, said Nancy Wood, public information officer for District 6.

The project has gotten a mixed reception from those in the area.

Bill Hoftstetter's home was one of about 30 along U.S. 27 to be razed for the project. Hoftstetter said his home of 14 years was torn down about three weeks ago.

Campbell County resident Bill Leising said his home and business, Bill's Auto Service, located along U.S. 27, were both displaced in 2001. Leising said he was in business for 42 years, but was at retirement age at the time it happened.

"I decided it wasn't worth the trouble relocating it."

Pat Wolfe's house she lived in since 1962 was also taken. Wolfe, a bus driver for Campbell County Schools lives on a 78-acre farm that partially sits in the project's path.

Wolfe said her husband had attended meetings when the plan was brought up, but that they couldn't do anything about the progress.

"We live in a Democratic society where we pay taxes and all that, but when it comes to where they want to go and when, they do," she said. "You have to go on though ... Life doesn't always deal you the trump card," she said.

Wolfe and Hoftsteffer both agreed road improvements are vital.

"The highway was needed," Hoftsteffer said. "It was needed 10 years ago."

Campbell County Police Acting Chief Lt. Keith Hill said the widening is going to increase safety along that stretch of U.S. 27.

"It's a high-volume accident area," Hill said. "This is going to assist greatly in reducing accidents and the severity of accidents there."

Hill said the majority of accidents are due to rear-end or head-on collisions and overall driver inattention.

"It's a combination of it being a two-lane road and the speed limit being 55 miles per hour, " he said. "With the speed ... usually serious injury or fatalities occur."

The $25.6 million contract - awarded to Hinkle Contracting Co., Paris, Ky. - includes making the stretch a four-lane, divided highway with turning lanes in some places. Wood said old U.S. 27 will remain open during construction, however, motorists should watch signs, speed limits and possible lane closures. Work is expected to be complete in November 2006.

Hoftstetter said he's working to move on now that the reality of the project is final.

"You can't stop progress," he said.

E-mail aremke@enquirer.com




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