On November 19, I attended a meeting of the transportation advisory committee for the Jessamine County portion of the US 68 widening project. Part of the discussion was about what pedestrian and bicycling facilities needed to be included in the project. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet policy requires that these facilities be considered in every construction project.
The advisory committee ended up recommending that the road include wide shoulders for bicycle use from Lexington up to Catnip Hill road. At that point, the old Harrodsburg road will be used as both a bike route and for automobile traffic—it is expected that far fewer cars will be using the old road. The bicyclists and pedestrians will then join a shared use path for non-motorized vehicles only. It will cross under US 68 using a new tunnel (almost 150 feet long). The path will continue along Harrodsburg road up to KY 29.
I was a little surprised that most of the bicycle advocates wanted wide shoulders and to stay on the road. I was much more interested in the possiblity of a path along the road that could be used for various forms of exercise, including walking, running, strolling, biking, and skating. Walking beside a four lane highway on a shoulder isn’t that enjoyable. The advisory committee doesn’t want this to look like an interstate highway, so concerns for preserving the beauty of Harrodsburg road using grass shoulders won out. This led to recommending a separate 12 foot wide path. Similar concerns meant that we get a tunnel instead of a bridge crossing the road.
I was thrilled with the strong support of a number of bicyclists and those friends of rail-trails. It would be wonderful to be able to bicycle from Lexington to High Bridge along safe trails. There’s still work to be done to make that a reality. Wilmore would need to extend its existing trail from the veteran’s center out to Ky 29. And there’s the High Bridge rail-trail that would provide the last portion from Wilmore to High Bridge.
I’m excited about the future possibilities. I’ve dreamed of biking to work from Wilmore, but the present road conditions make it unsafe. The new path is a dream come true. Having this path may help tourism in Jessamine county and those living along Harrodsburg Road will also enjoy it.