MURRAY — While projects within the Murray city limits were the main focus of a meeting last week with the Murray City Council, the chief engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s District 1 Office covered a project that is mostly outside of those boundaries. 

Kyle Poat gave a brief update on the progress of the highly-anticipated expansion of U.S. 641 South from the Murray city limits on South 12th Street (which becomes 641 outside of the city) to the Tennessee state line at Hazel. He addressed the project as two separate entities, with the first part covering the first mile outside of Murray and the second continuing to the state line.

Both projects are in the proposed six-year plan of the KYTC. 

“We just got started on that first mile or so,” Poat said of weather conditions this winter will probably prevent a lot of progress from being made over the next several weeks. “Jim Smith Construction (of Grand Rivers) got the contract in October and just briefly got started before it started getting wet around here.”’

However, Poat said he believes this part of the project, which will result in the highway being widened to four lanes and a new bridge being constructed over the Clarks River, will begin showing strong progress. 

“We’ve got a September 2021 completion date on that but I think, given good weather, it will be well before September when they get that done,” he said. “I could see that happening in late spring of that year. That’s a $6 million project, but the thing is, our engineer had estimated that at $7.1 million, so that’s good. It means that, by coming under, we’ve got more money to funnel to other projects.”

The second half of the project is expected to cost between $40-50 million. The entire project was made possible by the securing of a federal grant called a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant in December 2018. This was thanks to a joint effort of Murray and Calloway County groups and resources, as well as assistance from state and federal officials. 

Poat did say that his office is working to meet a key deadline with this project, and that is an October deadline of securing a construction contract. He said he sees no reason this deadline will not be met. 

He also said that the right-of-way portion of the project is progressing well and he also indicated that a couple of property owners who will be affected by the construction route have reached settlements with the KYTC. That project is slated for completion in late 2022 or early 2023. 

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