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Whitley County portion of KY 92 opened
Written by Andrew Powell   
Friday, 30 October 2009
The phrase “going across the mountain” may become absent from the vernacular of
travelers moving between Pine Knot and Williamsburg. The phrase “going across the mountain” may become absent from the vernacular of
travelers moving between Pine Knot and Williamsburg.
A five-mile section of the new Highway 92 was opened to traffic last Friday after several years of construction and political wrangling over project financing. This section of the new route begins just east of Old Jellico Creek Road and proceeds through a valley along the foot of Little Jellico Mountain to Williamsburg, completely negating the old route that took traffic across the mountain. The new path will save travelers around 10 minutes when making the trip between Pine Knot and Williamsburg.
The completion of the route comes more than 20 years after the proposal for a new highway was first introduced into state transportation plans.
“I heard it was open so my wife and I just had to drive over there during the weekend,” McCreary County Judge-Executive Blaine Phillips said this week. “We have waited so long to see this project transpire and it was just an absolute thrill to get to drive across that new road.”
Now, with that section complete, the attention of Phillips, and many local residents, turns to construction on a five-mile section of the road leading from Pine Knot. This part of the route, along with the first leg near Williamsburg, was saved with funding appropriated through the federal stimulus program. A $66 million project to reconstruct the center portion of the route from KY 592 in McCreary County to Old Jellico Creek Road in Whitley County has fallen from the drawing board onto the floor. Cut with a veto from Governor Steve Beshear, due to financial considerations, the project has been removed from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s highway plans.
“Of course, one day we would love to see the entire road built as it was planned, but all is not lost,” Phillips said. “Two primary parts of the road are being addressed and I can only hope that one day, if for nothing other than safety concerns, the rest of the road is complete. But, at least we have a flat road to drive across and will save some travel time.”
Funding will soon began flowing to the five-mile section of the route that will provide a new Hwy. 92 connector from U.S. 27 in Pine Knot to KY 592 near the foot of Davis Hill. Judge Phillips says he expects “dirt to begin flying” on that section of the route in the near future.
“The planning is complete, land acquired, most of the utilities moved and the bidding process underway. They should be real close to moving dirt,” he says. “The end result is in sight.”
Phillips said he was not sure of the estimated construction time for the project, but feels it should not take very long.
“They are pretty much just straightening out a few curves. It is not like the other section where there was a mountain to cut through or gullies to fill. It shouldn’t take that long to build,” Phillips said.
Phillips hopes the reconstructed route will not only ease travel time for local residents, but aid in improving the local economy with Interstate 75 more accessible to this area.

“We should be able to capitalize on this new road and use it to improve our economic situation,” he added. “A lot of people have been waiting a long time on this and it should benefit us in a number of ways.”
 
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