MURRAY — Businesses located along US 641 South want the public to know they are still open and accessible despite the ongoing construction along the highway.
Jim Smith Contracting, LLC, is the prime contractor on the $6,097,432 highway widening project, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced Wednesday afternoon that the contractor had shifted traffic to the already completed portion of the road on the south edge of Murray. The work zone along U.S. 641 runs from the intersection with U.S. 641-Business/Glendale Road at mile point 6.65 at the south edge of Murray extending southward to the Clarks River Bridge at mile point 5.683, a distance of just over one mile. This is the first phase of work aimed at reconstructing U.S. 641 from Murray to the Kentucky-Tennessee State Line near Hazel.
“It’s business as usual here at Reed Interiors, and for our neighbors as well,” said Steven Reed, co-owner of Reed Interiors. “As of (Wednesday), we are now using the two new lanes on 641 that have been paved, and the two old existing lanes are closed. The south entrance to the parking lot here is wide open, so just follow the traffic cones to get in. What will eventually be the two northbound lanes is one northbound and one southbound right now, so no worries!”
Jayson Roberts, owner of Trends N Treasures Merchants Mall, said he had a few customers call him Thursday morning who were unsure if they would be able to enter his parking lot now that the traffic has shifted over. He assured them that nothing had changed.
“We’re excited about the four-lane coming through because when it’s done, it’s going to be really pretty and we are going to have sidewalks and curbs,” Roberts said. “As per the agreement we have with the state, they have to keep a nice, clean, easy-to-drive entrance, and so the entrance right now is really nice and Smith Contracting is doing a wonderful job. Seth Curtis, who is the superintendent on that project, is a friend of mine and I can’t say enough good about them. They’ve done a spectacular job.
Roberts said that as the project continues into the spring, his business will always be open and they will always have a good entrance to the shopping center. As he received phone calls from worried customers on Thursday, he tried to put them at ease.
“People were a little bit confused (wondering), ‘Is there an entrance?’ That’s part of Smith’s job, to keep a well-marked entrance, and if anybody is having a hard time with the entrance, if they would please give me a call at Trends N Treasures, I would be more than happy to address that with the state or with Smith Contracting.”
Andy Foley, general manager of Toyota of Murray, said the dealership is now back to having two entrances after having been restricted to one since March.
“Obviously, we lost quite a bit of frontage, but they’ve done a really, really good job of keeping our entrance open,” Foley said. “They did shut one down while they were fixing this particular side (of the highway), but they have since allowed us to reopen it, so now both of our main entrances are open again. From my perspective, they’ve done a really good job maintaining those entrances for us. When they shifted traffic, I asked them if they would be able to pave up to the north entrance so we could reopen it.”
Glenda Garland, owner of Brenda’s Beauty Salon, said she had called most of her regular customers already to make sure they knew they could still reach the salon.
“They can get in; they just have to go down farther and watch the road,” she said.
Amy Robertson, owner of Market Lane, said her business was also operating as normal.
The target completion date on the first phase of the construction project is Dec. 1, 2020. The project is estimated to be 35 percent complete at this point, KYTC said. In recent weeks, the contractor has placed base courses of asphalt along the newly constructed northbound lanes before establishing two-way traffic on the new lanes Wednesday.