2017-12-06 / Front Page

Construction to begin in 2018 on 119 project

Construction is scheduled to begin next year on a $27.8 million widening project for a section of U.S. 119 North from Pine Mountain Junction to the existing four-lane at Mayking.

The work is part of a larger plan to make the highway four-lane for its entire 12-mile length from Whitesburg to Jenkins. There are currently two sections of four-lane, from Brass Drive at Mayking to KY 1862 and from Bill Moore Branch to old US 119 loop at Payne Gap. According to the state highway plan, construction will begin next year on the Whitesburg end of the road, and in 2020 on the Jenkins end.

No construction date has been set for the middle section of the road, from KY 1862 to Bill Moore Branch, though design work will begin in 2018.

Surveying has been underway for months on the Whitesburg and Jen kins sections, and construction is expected to begin soon on the Whitesburg end. The work will be broken into two sections, one from the bridge at Pine Mountain Junction to KY 2034 and Cougar Drive and the second from KY 2034 to the existing four-lane.

The Jenkins section of the road won’t be under construction for another two years after that. That section of highway will reroute a section of the road to improve its intersection with US 23.

The new route is still being studied, but it is expected to take travelers from the end of the four-lane along a new alignment through the Gateway Industrial Park at Jenkins to reconnect with US 23. The current intersection includes a tunnel for northbound US 119 traffic, and a severe left turn for traffic turning from northbound US 23 to southbound US 119. The intersection has been the site of many accidents. The number of accidents there was one of the prime reasons the road was reconstructed in the 1990s, but the current design has proved to be little better.

The new alignment is expected to include a “flyover ramp” to allow traffic from the two highways to merge rather than cross oncoming lanes. Design is expected to cost $3.5 million, with another $3.6 million for right-of-way acquisition and $2.5 million for utility relocation. Construction is estimated at $18 million.

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