With increasing volumes of traffic on aging highways, the repair and construction of new roads is more critical than ever. One state taking the lead in trying to get ahead of this problem is Kentucky.
"The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is pushing forward with the most aggressive highway improvement program in Kentucky's history, investing more than $1 billion in highway construction in 2006," says Mark Brown, a public information officer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. "The state is on track to surpass that figure in calendar year 2007."
There are many high-profile projects going on in the state, including Restore 64, which is making improvements to Interstate 64 through downtown Louisville; a project rehabilitating the Hwy. 61 twin bridges over the Ohio River in Henderson, KY; and the Heartland Parkway, a long-term project to improve the road that connects the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Highway and the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway to provide better access to Kentucky's Central Lakes region.
Another project, just north of the Heartland Parkway plan, is near Taylorsville Lake and is an extension of Kentucky Hwy. 555.
"The purpose of the extension is to provide better access for central Kentucky to the Louisville area, the Martha Lane Collins Bluegrass Parkway and other area roads," says Brown.
The Kentucky Hwy. 555 extension begins at the Martha Lane Collins Bluegrass Parkway in Washington County and proceeds north, touching the southeastern tip of Nelson County before entering Anderson County. It continues to the northeast, following Love Ridge Road and U.S. 62 before crossing U.S. 62 near Johnsonville. From there, the extension goes north to Kentucky 248, which takes it to Taylorsville Lake. The project is seven miles long.
"Extending Kentucky 555 will improve transportation accessibility and efficiency to the area," says Brown. "It's going to create growth in the number of visitors to the east end of Taylorsville Lake and provide opportunities for economic development to the area. It will have a positive impact on education and public services by providing safer and quicker routes for school buses and emergency vehicles."
Of the over $1 billion being spent on road construction projects in Kentucky in 2007, $36.5 million is allocated to the Hwy. 555 extension. The project was introduced into the state's six-year highway plan in 1992. Preliminary engineering and environmental impact studies were begun in 1994.
While this may seem like a long time for a project to come to fruition, Brown says that the Hwy. 555 timeline is normal.
"The Kentucky Six-Year Highway Plan is formulated and approved by the general assembly and signed and executed by the governor and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet," says Brown. "Just because a highway project is in the six-year plan doesn't mean that it's going to have a six-year lifespan. Other priorities can come up and circumvent any particular project. The timeline for the Hwy. 555 extension is not out of the ordinary."
Mago paves the way
The company contracted to pave Kentucky Hwy. 555 in Nelson County is Mago Construction Co., based in Bardstown, KY. "We're family owned and have been in business for 50 years," says Chris Edelen, equipment manager for Mago. "We have 11 asphalt plants and two stone quarries. We primarily supply our own materials and we run five paving crews."
Another contractor completed the grade work on Hwy. 555 and Mago is doing the paving. "The grading contractor prepares a mile to a mile-and-a-half at a time for us," says Mike Mattingly, paving supervisor for Mago. "We lay rock on the mainline and then pave asphalt. We lay the mainline base lifts and then pave rock on the shoulders again so the trucks can get off it. We alternate back and forth."
Mago uses a Volvo Blaw-Knox PF-5510 to lay the rock. Volvo Construction Equipment purchased the Ingersoll Rand road development division on April 30, 2007. A total of 130,000 metric tons of rock is being placed at the jobsite. Mago averages 2,500 tons of crushed stone per day.