The Caldwell County Fiscal Court passed a resolution dissenting against the U.S. 641 Connect project last week.
Judge-Executive Larry Curling said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet should not build the highway because it will bypass Fredonia, causing unforeseeable damage to its economy and possible infrastructure.
“I’ve always said if you can’t take care of the roads you already have,” Curling said. “Why would you build another road?”
He explained the design of the highway does not benefit Caldwell County residents and is detrimental to Fredonia.
“I can’t see any benefit they’ll get out of it,” Curling said.
Traffic volume studies conducted by KYTC do not accurately represent the daily traffic, Curling said.
“Over and over, we said we do not need a four-lane,” Curling said.
Fredonia residents Tony Green and Donnie Boone expressed the same concern. They said there are too many discrepancies surrounding the data and additional stakeholder meetings and studies are necessary.
The resolution states that the Caldwell County Fiscal Court requests that the “state department of transportation cease exploration, planning, and design of a proposed new KY Highway 641” in the county.
The 641 Connect project will also affect Crittenden, Lyon and Caldwell County residents.
State and local meetings with stakeholders, dating back to 2006, and numerous studies have contributed to the impetus of undertaking the highway project.
KYTC stated the purpose and need is to reduce congestion and improve safety through wider driving lanes and shoulders, improve freight movement from I-24 and I-69, improve emergency vehicle response times, connect to a previous US 641 improvement project in Marion, and improve access to recreational and tourist areas in the region.
District 4 Magistrate Jeff Simms, and the fiscal court, support a Super Two highway design that avoids bypassing Fredonia and invests in existing infrastructure. He explained federal funds could be of better use to improve other highways throughout the county.
“It touches Caldwell County the least, but it has the greatest impact here,” Simms said. “We want to make sure the dollars that are being allocated to projects are benefitting our citizens.”
The magistrate also explained diverted traffic as a result of the proposed preferred alternate route will hurt Fredonia businesses.
“Just because you are building a new 641, that doesn’t make the old 641 or its maintenance go away.”
Fredonia Mayor Jim Seibert expressed dissent for the highway project during the public hearing on July 19.
He is concerned with water infrastructure problems that may arise as a result of construction. Seibert would also like to see a highway design that incorporates bicycle lanes and doesn’t bypass his town.
Seibert stated the resolution was drafted without his knowledge and input and would have appreciated the opportunity to express his opinion on the matter.
The resolution further states that the Caldwell County Fiscal Court “encourage the KY Department of Transportation to rethink the methodology in continuing with a project that is unwanted by residents and stakeholders” in Caldwell.