Residents of the Yerkes community, along with Rep. Fitz Steele, lobbied officials to have a guardrail installed along Ky. 451 near Yerkes School Road after 84-year-old Jesse Young drowned in the Kentucky River when his pickup veered off the road in January 2010.
That small, narrow stretch of state maintained highway is situated with a CSX railroad on one side and a steep drop off into the river on the other, and residents said they feared another accident at the site could result in tragedy.
“I was scared,” said Barbara Ambrose, a Yerkes resident who said her children ride the bus to school and have to travel that roadway often.
The road was also continuing to deteriorate after the last high water event, she continued, as the river had eaten away some of the earth beneath the road.
“They about had to do something (to fix the road), really, because the road was about gone,” she said, adding that she’s relieved workers are on-site this week to correct the problem.
Crews contracted by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet began work on the project last week, but initially wet weather followed by equipment malfunctions caused delays, noted H.B. Elkins, information officer for the Cabinet’s District 10 office in Jackson. Work did continue through last weekend, and Elkins said he expected the initial drilling phase of the project which has caused the road to be closed during daytime hours to be complete by today at the latest.
Once drilling is completed, crews can crib and backfill the area to build up a shoulder, and then the guardrail installation can take place. Elkins said if the weather holds and no more equipment problems crop up, officials think the project should be completed in the next few weeks.
“We hope to be completely finished by the 8th of April,” he said.
Though Elkins said the road should be reopened once drilling is complete, he added that motorists can still expect delays at the site in the next two to three weeks.
Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock opted to allocated $73,000 in discretionary funds for the project after Rep. Steele and local residents continued a push for safety improvements at the site.