Connector road between Markland Dam and I-71 on target for May completion

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While Switzerland County residents are keeping a close eye on construction by the Indiana Department of Transportation on the new bridge over Indian Creek and the improvements to State Road 129; another road project south of Switzerland County will also have a major impact on residents here.

Switzerland Countians who use the Markland Dam bridge are seeing construction work going on at the Kentucky side of the bridge, as workers continue to construct a new road that will connect State Road 101 over the dam to Interstate 71 to the south.

Glenn Mullins is the superintendent of construction for the Hi-View Construction Company, the Corbin, Kentucky firm that has been doing the construction work. He said that his company’s contract calls for the road to be completed and opened by May 26th, 2006 — and everything is right on target to meet that deadline.

When completed, the connector road will be 5.2 miles in length, and will connect State Road 101 to the interstate at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. For race fans coming from the north, it will shave several miles off of the existing route — bringing them through Switzerland County in the process.

But the road is being built for more than the convenience of race fans. It will also allow trucks coming and going to the steel mills and other industry on the Kentucky side of the river with easy access to the interstate system; which should mean more potential for economic growth, both in Kentucky and Switzerland County.

On an individual level, those county residents who frequent Florence, Kentucky and other shopping areas around Greater Cincinnati, the road should make it a quicker and easier drive.

Glenn Mullins said that the job is being done in different phases, and that right now one lane of traffic has been closed down on the south end of the dam so that workers can make some repairs as they prepare to tie the new road into the existing one. That work will be followed by the redirection of bridge traffic.

“Within the next two to three weeks we will be shutting down the old ramp off of the bridge, and drivers will have to use the new ramp,” Glenn Mullins said. “That means that people are going to be exiting the dam to the right instead of to the left as they always have, so people will need to be aware of this change.”

Once all work is completed, normal traffic going south over the dam and accessing Kentucky Highway 42 will turn to the west when exiting the bridge.

Those who keep going south will be driving on 5.2 miles of what will be Kentucky Highway 1030, taking them on a direct route to the four-lane entrance to the Kentucky Speedway.

Work on the project began in June of 2004, and Glenn Mullins says that currently there are 31 workers on both day and night shifts working on the road. Some of those workers are local Switzerland County residents that the company hired once it arrived in the area.

“Right now we’ve got the first three-quarters of a mile south of the Markland Dam finished,” Glenn Mullins said. “We have been paving that so we can detour people through the new ramp. On the south end, we’ve already got about one and a quarter miles of the project completed and paved, so things are going well.”

Glenn Mullins said that when the project started, Gould Road in Gallatin County had to be closed on the south end of the project, and that hampered local residents there who needed use of the road. That meant that the project needed to get the south end done as soon as possible, and that has been completed and is open to normal traffic and school buses.

The job superintendent says that the workers will have all of the yardage in place by the first part of December, and then weather will play a role in how fast the work continues from there.

Glenn Mullins said that once the yardage is in place, workers will have to complete a process called “lime stabilization”; where a lime mixture is laid along the route and then allowed to cure to a consistency similar to concrete. That process can only take place when the temperature is above 40-degrees, and it needs to stay at or over that temperature for a period of time in order for the lime to cure.

Because the end of the year is fast approaching, Glenn Mullins thinks that workers won’t be able to do the lime stabilization until the spring of 2006; but if the weather stays warm deep into the fall, the work may move along more quickly.

“Like all projects, it’s up to the weather,” Glenn Mullins said. “Right now I feel really good that we’re on track to meet our deadline and get people driving on this road.”