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Finally Open!

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Those who have had to make the trek between Carrollton and Milton regularly using the Locust Road-Fairview Heights-Hunters Heights detour likely rejoiced Saturday, Aug. 24, when they discovered the new Locust Creek Bridge on Hwy. 36 West finally was reopened to traffic.

The road had been closed since March 11. According to the contract between Judy Construction of Cynthiana and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6, the bridge was to reopen June 8 and the entire project was to be completed by June 30.

Completion was delayed again and again, with Judy officials placing most of the blame on the rainy spring weather.

Floyd Bowling, magistrate for Fiscal Court District 1 where the bridge project is located, said he believes poor planning was really the reason for the delays. A contractor himself, Bowling said he believes the project was understaffed from the beginning.

“It was a 90-day job that lasted six months,” he said. “That project should never have happened that way.”

But all that is, literally, water under the bridge. “We have a good new bridge and a better road to travel,” Bowling said, adding that “a lot of lives were lost” on the old bridge.

Bowling said he is pleased with the engineering that went into the new road leading up to the bridge on the Milton side and believes it should minimize road sliding, which has been a problem for years. “They done their homework,” he said.

In a phone interview Tuesday from San Francisco, Calif., where he is attending a conference, Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson echoed Bowling’s comments on the project and said he, too, is very happy the road has reopened.

“I know it’s been difficult for a lot of people. It added time to their schedules and added expense,” he said. “I wish it could have gone a little smoother, but it’s done. It’s a good thing.”

Tomlinson said he plans to concentrate on repairs to the side roads used by commuters during the detour and has already sent a request to KYTC District 6 engineers to get state assistance.

Probably few people could be happier to have the road reopened than Carroll County Sheriff Jamie Kinman.

“Thank the Lord,” Kinman said Tuesday morning. “We at the sheriff’s office are very pleased that it’s open. People can get back to their regular routines. … It’s good for Carroll County, and I know the people on Locust are happy.”

The motorcycle versus SUV accident that left the biker, Vernon Abney Jr., 52, of Madison, Ind., hospitalized Aug. 15, was the worst collision that occurred during the months of the detour, Kinman said.

“I feel very bad for the guy on the motorcycle,” the sheriff said, admitting that early on in the project, he expected more serious accidents along the detour route. “It’s unfortunate we had this one, but we’re fortunate it was the only one.”

Nancy Wood, spokesperson for KYTC District 6, said with the opening of the bridge, the state stopped assessing $2,000 in daily fines against Judy Construction. However, the company is still accruing $2,400 in daily fines for “liquidated damages” until the entire project is completed.

Judy faces nearly $350,000 in state-levied fines for the delays. The company accrued about $152,000 in fines for the 76 days past the original deadline for reopening the road. If the entire project is finished by Sept. 16, as predicted by the state, Judy will accrue an additional $187,200 for the 78 days past the original deadline for completion.

Wood said the final tally of fines wouldn’t be known until the project is completed. She said Judy Construction would have the right to appeal the fines levied by the state at that point.