During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at Central Kentucky Ag Expo Center in Liberty, Gov. Steve Beshear commended the people of the area for pushing for this change over the course of more than 10 years.
The hill was formerly at a 16 percent grade but has been smoothed and expanded, decreasing the grade to 6 percent. The road was widened as well.
Bruce Neeley, chief district engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, was a former maintenance engineer in the area so he was familiar with the road problems on Ky. 1649. He said the $3.9 million improvement project was expected to be completed under budget.
State Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, and Sen. Vernie McGaha, R-Russell Springs, both offered proposals to use the leftover money on other projects in the county such as more road changes, an airport and an industrial park.
McGaha, who was in the last hours of his final term as state senator, offered a “parting thought” to Beshear regarding these ideas.
“You’ve got time before your term ends to make sure that happens,” he said with a smile, which was met with laugher.
The biggest upside to the new stretch of roadway is the effect it will have on safety for those traveling, according to county and city leaders alike.
“This is probably the most pressing issue we’ve had for safety,” said Liberty Mayor Steve Sweeney, adding he is “thrilled” for those who live in the area.
“It’s a great asset for our community,” Casey Judge-Executive Ronald Wright said.
He explained that he had been pushing for the change since he came into office and was happy to finally see it come to fruition.
Glenn Thompson, who lives on Bowman Trail at the top of the hill, said he is happy to see the road open, sharing that he and other family members had to travel it frequently.
“I’m just thankful for the road,” Thompson said.