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US 119 rebuild hits roadblock

A newly widened section of US 119 North between Pine Mountain Junction and Letcher County Central High School is open to traffic, but drivers expecting more of the road to be rebuilt will have to wait.

Drivers concerned about the potholes and rough patching between Kona and Payne Gap will likely see improvements in the spring, highway department officials say, but more extensive work probably won’t begin until after June, and even then it’s not sure when.

Pavement rehabilitation along the Fishpond Lake-Payne Gap section, where residents have been complaining about potholes and patches they say are dangerous to motorists, will be done first.

Sara George, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Transportation

District 12 in Pikeville, said that work will begin after the asphalt plants reopen in spring. The plants close down during winter.

Other plans call for widening the road between LCCHS and first section of four-lane at Mayking, adding turn lanes near the Mayking Mall, and relocating the section between the second section of four-lane near Fishpond Lake and Payne Gap. But while the highway department has already held public comment sessions on some of those projects, the state legislature has not appropriated money for right-of-way, utilities or construction for any of them.

The relocation of the road between Fishpond and Payne Gap is in design now, but no money has been appropriated for right-of-way purchases, utility relocation or construction, said John Michael John- son, design project manager for the district. The other sections have been designed, but no money has been allocated for those either, Johnson said.

“Probably the next section you’ll see done (completed) is Mayking,” Johnson said.

That work will include the addition of turn lanes at the Mayking Mall, and working on the transition of passing lanes on the hill between Bottom Fork and Kona.

Johnson said that project doesn’t require rightof way purchases or utility relocation.

Multiple bridges are slated for repair here, though many aren’t scheduled until 2020 and after. One exception is bridge KY 2034 C, the short connector from the mouth of Craft’s Colly to US 119 North. The bridge crosses the Kentucky River opposite Cougar Drive.

The bridge is expected to cost about $979,000 and is on the road plan to begin construction this fiscal year, but an exact date has not been set.

A second bridge, which crosses Craft’s Colly Creek a short distance from the first, is to be designed next year and built in 2020. The smaller bridge is estimated at $140,000 for design and $427,840 for construction.

Twelve other bridges in the county are on the state highway plan, but have not been funded. The biggest project involves replacing Red Star Bridge on KY 7 South at a cost of $5.4 million.

The long, two-lane concrete bridge crosses the Kentucky River and CSX Railroad about 2.6 miles from the Perry County line. It is scheduled for design next year and construction in 2020.

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