There has long been a dangerous, blind curve at the intersection of Manchester and Judge streets, causing numerous accidents. Finally, after several years of negotiations between the city of Barbourville, Union College, the Kentucky Department of Transportation and the Barbourville Street Department, big changes are being made.
“We started this project years ago, trying to make it better and more convenient to get into town,” said Barbourville Mayor David Thompson. “During the school year, there are upwards of 1,000 people traveling to and from the college along Manchester Street. We also needed to make it safe for trucks coming around the corners as they enter and exit the college.”
According to Union College’s Communication Department, the project began late 2010 as a result of safety concerns arising from folks within the local college community. Former Union College President Ed DeRosset took the issue to Senator Robert Stivers in 2011, who addressed the project within the Transportation Cabinet. Stivers worked with Governor Beshear to manage planning on the project and to move the project into the road plan.
The overall goal of the project was to improve safety, provide better traffic flow, improve storm water drainage, as well as improve the aesthetic look of Manchester Street.
In order for the project to receive support from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the College was asked to be a partner in the project by providing donated easements for 22-24 feet of college property that fronts Manchester Street on the main campus side of the street, as well as easements on college properties on the opposite side of Manchester Street. This donation would mitigate the impact to other landowners along Manchester Street.
The first part of the project came to pass when the railroad underpass at California Hollow was finally removed in July.
Next is the widening of Manchester Street for turning lanes, curve improvements, sidewalk construction and storm sewer system construction. The project will start beside Conway Boatman Chapel and continue to the corner of College and Manchester Streets and then continue down Manchester Street to the entrance of Judge Street.
The Kentucky Department of Transportation anticipates the road project to start in March or April 2016 and has a scheduled completion date of Nov. 15, 2016. The road will remain open until May 15, at which time the contractor is allowed to close the road to all but local traffic until Aug. 15. At that time, the contractor is required to open the road and construct any remaining items using lane closures. The lane closures will utilize the newly constructed three lanes so that there should be two-way traffic for the duration of the project.