Perryville is prepared for a new bridge

Published 10:49 am Saturday, November 30, 2019


Guest columnist

On behalf of our Perryville Citizens, everyone who travels on U.S. 150, whether residents, guests, tourists  or truckers — going through Western Boyle County, please accept my reply to the Department of Transportation letter regarding reconstruction of the Chaplin River Bridge.

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My focus will be on the DOT letter’s erroneous suggestion that one more in a long series of delays is based on Perryville’s “lack of preparedness.”

In brief, the history of negotiations and “preparedness” to move forward with repairs & redesign dates back nearly two decades.

  • In her early years as mayor, Anne Sleet opened serious discussions to that effect. Optimism reigned over the ensuing years as state officials gave verbal assurances that soon “something would be done.”
  • With ever-increasing commerce via hundreds of 18 wheelers crossing the river weekly, DOT acknowledged, then as it does now — the bridge’s integral financial role all throughout Boyle County and the region.
  • Optimism prevailed once again in late spring this year as DOT officials, Judge Howard Hunt, our Boyle County Engineer Duane Campbell and I met at the bridge, walking its narrow lanes and the tight four-way intersection leading to it.

That very day, now half a year ago, we heard state engineers devise a plan. It was a good plan!

DOT’s late spring 2019 plan included wider bridge lanes via elimination of its current walkways — along with a new walking bridge over Chaplin River at a location just yards up river.

Our enthusiasm was heightened when a projection for redesign and completion was suggested, perhaps even within this calendar year.

Imagine our surprise & consternation when on Nov. 12 — during a well-attended Perryville Public Forum we learned:

  • Delays (just like those of recent and past vintage) would take this project to mid-2020 or beyond.
  • More stunning, rather than the DOT maintaining one open lane during reconstruction, a 12-mile detour over narrow Boyle County backroads was proposed.
  • Imagine for a moment firefighters, law enforcement, EMS and others constrained in their vital roles, as they’d drive 20 minutes out of their way to render essential aid.
  • What recourse in the event of a fire, home invasion, constituent heart attack or farm accident would any of our first responders have? Delays in rendering aid would be perilous at best; life-threatening in all too many instances.

An emphatic NO: Engineers and State Officials! Our rejection of your detour plan, lack of emergency provisions, stifled commerce and impediments to daily life was NOT rooted in our “lack of preparedness.”

Rather it was our instant recognition that your Nov. 12 Chaplin River repair and redesign plan simply lacked a common sense solution.

We as Taxpayers now look to you for a plan that genuinely addresses all factors offered by our residents during and subsequent to your recent public forum.

Submitted respectfully in the better interests of Boyle County and all Central Kentucky Constituents.


Tom V. Ellis is a Boyle County magistrate representing the first district.