The Herald recently highlighted efforts of local residents and state Rep. Fitz Steele to convince the state Transportation Cabinet to install guardrails along the side of the state maintained road. According to a press release issued on Monday by the District 10 office of the Transportation Cabinet, funds have now been set aside for the project.
H.B. Elkins, information officer for the Cabinet, told the Herald last week that while officials have determined that the partial one-lane roadway, located near the Yerkes Post Office and nestled between a railroad on one side and a steep drop into the river on the other, does meet guidelines for guardrail installation. But the cost of the improvements had been prohibitive in quickly approving the project. Elkins noted that a request had been hade to Acting Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock to utilize discretionary funds for the project, but as of press time last week the status of the request was unknown.
Officials now say Hancock has approved funding to install a guardrail at the site, a project with an estimated cost of $73,000. According to a release from the Cabinet, the decision to approve project funding came following a presentation of a citizen petition through Rep. Fitz Steele, who had contacted several state officials about the project since the fatal accident that took the like of 84-year-old Jesse Young in January.
During an interview on Monday, Rep. Steele expressed thanks to Secretary Hankcock, Kim Jenkins, and Gov. Beshear’s office “for helping get this done.”
Steele noted that he had forwarded a petition signed by local residents and written letters to several state and local officials, and he’s relieved Cabinet officials have recognized the importance of improving the road in Yerkes. Steele also expressed thanks to the residents of Yerkes who helped bring the matter to his attention.
“I appreciate the people in the Yerkes area for their staying after it and helping me and keeping me aware of everything going on,” Steele said.
Though officials have yet to release a time frame for when the improvements will be made in Yerkes, Secretary Hancock, who noted safety in his decision, said he expects the work to begin as soon as possible.
“Because safety is always our top our priority, I am authorizing the use of discretionary cabinet funds,” Hancock said. “We will schedule this project as soon as it is practical to do so.”