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Crowded roads

La Grange officials hope
to pre-empt Hwy. 53 congestion

New development likely to increase traffic
from I-71 to Main Street

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2005) – The City of La Grange is taking the first steps in alleviating an anticipated traffic congestion problem. With the planned expansion of the La Grange area through a 1,000-acre business park off of Hwy. 53, New Moody and I-71, officials are considering all options that will benefit their city.

Hwy. 53 Traffic

Photo by Don Ward

Traffic often backs up
at the intersection of Hwy. 53
and I-71 in La Grange.

An explosion in the growth of economic development along the Hwy 53 and I-71 corridor has left city officials and project planners wondering if their plans to create a smooth traffic flow into the city will instead become an ensnarled stretch of roadway that is a major headache for all who travel it.
The city is on the verge of signing a contract with a consultant from HNTB Corp. of Louisville to conduct a study on a one-mile stretch of Hwy 53, from I-71 to Main Street. This Access Management Plan has taken many options into consideration in this stretch of county-state roadway, which is now bordered by fast food restaurants, gas stations and secondary streets leading to businesses and offices.
Louise Allen, administrator for Oldham County Planning and Zoning, said this is an opportunity to provide “a gateway into the community from the interstate.”
The study will reveal issues that need treatment along this corridor.
“It is a high-accident location,” said Allen. It will determine if too many curb cuts are present, it will space access points, analyze ways to reduce congestion and frequency of crashes, and pinpoint more room for landscaping.
A variety of techniques will be studied to remedy any problems in the development of this corridor. The result will be similar to Shelbyville Plaza, said Allen.
Allen said increased traffic congestion is a factor that is just naturally expected to happen. She hopes that having plans in place ahead of time to deal with any problems that may arise will ease tensions down the road.
The project is expected to take nine months from start to finish. The city hopes to have the project implemented one year from now, said Allen.
The federal government has provided a $1.3 million grant for this project. The money is for studying, designing and building the project, said Karen Mohammadi, who is slated to be the project manager once a contract is signed.
HNTB will conduct the planning and engineering. Mohammadi’s firm hopes to begin a study by July and have it completed by the end of the year. The study will determine what improvements must be implemented and a cost for the total project. The possibility exists for this to be a phased project, instead of the entire project being completed at one time.
The Kentucky legislature has added funds for this project into its proposed Six-Year Plan, said Allen. But the money has not been authorized yet.
Public participation in this project is a must. Ideas will be sought to ensure the safety of motorists and an aesthetic quality with which merchants can feel comfortable.

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