KY 237 will be safer for bikes, walkers to share with cars, thanks to makeover starting in summer

10-foot-wide path will be among improvements
Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 07:00:09-05

HEBRON, Ky. -- A dangerous stretch of Boone County roadway will get a pedestrian-friendly face-lift starting next summer.

Kentucky Route 237 is slated to receive enhancements to allow for pedestrian traffic, as well as bicycling and other non-motorized traffic, to occur in a safer and more efficient manner.

The project will add a 10-foot-wide asphalt path along KY 237 to create a multi-modal environment conducive to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The path will begin on the west side of KY 237, just south of Stephens Elementary School, connecting to the path recently installed by the state as part of the single-point urban interchange at the intersection of KY 237 and KY 18. The path will proceed north to Conrad Lane, use the existing crosswalk to cross KY 237 and then proceed north on the east side of KY 237 to KY 20/Petersburg Road.

Cars and pedestrians can’t always safely share a roadway. (Public domain photo)

At Cougar Path Lane, a 5-foot-wide concrete sidewalk will be added along the south side of Cougar Lane to connect to the existing sidewalk network, providing access to the Boone County School’s Conner campus. Additionally, a sidewalk will be constructed on the south side of KY 20/Petersburg Road to connect to an existing sidewalk to the west of Limaburg Road.

The project is part of the most recent announcement of projects set to be funded in part by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), which includes $77 million to be distributed to 42 transportation projects in the region.

Within a one-half-mile radius, the project will serve 1,600 residential units, five schools, 22 industrial employment buildings, numerous civic institutions and a fire station. 

“This project will provide a number of benefits to the citizens of Boone County. First and foremost, it will enhance safety in the corridor. This is a heavily traveled roadway through the heart of Boone County. Currently, pedestrians and bikes are forced to use the shoulder of the road, which is not safe,” said Matthew Webster, assistant county administrator. He said that between May 25, 2015, and May 25, 2016, 91 collisions were recorded on this stretch of KY 237, three of which involved pedestrians.

“In addition, it will promote healthy activity, provide connections from neighborhoods to schools, parks and businesses, and will promote economic development as it connects people to employers and mass transit,” he said.

Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore was an advocate of the project, which he sees as a needed component for the growing area.

“These new multi-use paths will help connect workers to job opportunities along the corridor. Transit ridership has substantially increased, primarily because of job growth in this area. This will help create a safer and more reliable transportation system,” he said.

Design funds for the project were made available immediately. The county is currently working to finalize the request for proposal process in hopes to begin the design process in the coming months. Construction is slated to begin in the summer of 2017, after the construction funding becomes available. A completion date cannot be set until the design process is finished.

Total project cost is $2.6 million, of which OKI will contribute $2.1 million. The remaining $500,000 will come from the county’s capital fund.

The county has been working to secure grant funding for the project for nearly three years. Prior to applying for the OKI funding, the county applied twice for grant funding through the state for the project but was unsuccessful. The KY 237 pathway project was included in the county’s most recent comprehensive plan and transportation plan.

“We have been working diligently to identify funding to allow it to be completed,” Webster said. “It would be difficult to have moved forward with a project this large without the grant funding. Some version of the project likely would have moved forward; however, it would have potentially been constructed in smaller phases over a longer period of time due to cost.”

Each project funded by OKI went through an extensive review and scoring process and was judged on criteria including cost, feasibility, impact on community and assurance of success.

The funds were allocated through three federal programs: In Ohio, the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and the Transportation Alternative program (TA), and the Surface Transportation Program for Northern Kentucky (SNK).

The STP funding will assist 12 projects in roadway reconstruction, safety improvements, bus replacements and fiber optics. The TA program will benefit 15 Ohio projects, while the SNK funding will support 15 projects in Northern Kentucky.

“These projects form a comprehensive network that will improve the region’s economy and quality of life,” said OKI’s CEO Mark Policinski. “They solve important roadway problems while also funding transportation options like bike and pedestrian paths, which communities consider a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. The environment, economy and safety of our region will be advanced by these wise expenditures.”

OKI has final authority over all federal dollars spent on surface transportation in the region. Each year, OKI approves roughly $40 million in funding for projects in the region.