SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – After three years of construction, the new four-lane segment of the Mountain Parkway Expansion running through Salyersville’s Restaurant Row is now fully open to traffic. Restaurant Row marks the second section of the Parkway to be completed under the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC)’s Mountain Parkway Expansion.
“In the coming months, crews will be working on smaller finishing touches along Restaurant Row that will be less visible to the public,” says Marshall Carrier, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s project manager for the Mountain Parkway Expansion. “Drivers can expect occasional lanes closures for short amounts of time as projects receive final bits of work. But as of this week, the new four-lane drive and both access roads are fully operational and open to traffic.”
The Restaurant Row section of the Parkway began construction in September 2016. Accounting for 2.4 miles of the Parkway, the Restaurant Row segment runs from where the old Mountain Parkway had previously ended, extending through the “Restaurant Row” district of the town of Salyersville, to just east of the KY 114 junction at Rock House Road.
The addition of the Restaurant Row segment is the first extension of the Mountain Parkway since the Parkway was built in the early 1960s and opened to the public as Kentucky’s second toll road in 1963. The Restaurant Row section of the Parkway was designed to increase safety for drivers on the Parkway, as well as those travelling throughout the town of Salyersville, by expanding the road from two to four lanes and creating wider lanes for larger vehicles.
Designing a safer experience for drivers on Restaurant Row was a primary focus for the Mountain Parkway Expansion team. To achieve this, the project’s design called for traffic travelling on the Parkway to be separated from local traffic travelling up and down Salyersville’s bustling business corridor, lined with restaurants, gas stations, and other local establishments.
The project design included two major components: First, the addition of two access roads, each running parallel to the Parkway—one on the left of the Parkway, and one on the right. These access roads—also known as the frontage and backage roads—give drivers the ability to navigate the town and travel back and forth to businesses along Restaurant Row while decreasing interaction with mainline traffic. This design ensures that businesses along the corridor remain well-trafficked and easily accessible to the travelling public.
The second component of the Restaurant Row design was to build new intersections along the Parkway in order to limit points of entry on a road that previously acted as a bottleneck for traffic, with more than 80 entrances for restaurants, stores, medical offices and other properties along the same stretch. Limiting points of entry with controlled intersections is a proven method to decrease traffic conflicts. This design relieves drivers of having to make the snap decision while driving of where they’re going to turn off the mainline, and waiting for an opening in traffic to do so. Instead, the new intersections create a safer and more controlled pattern of traffic.
“The Mountain Parkway Expansion’s #1 goal—in constructing this segment and all other segments of the Parkway—is to increase safety for drivers, ensuring that people have better access to travel throughout the region, and that they’re getting safely to where they need to be,” said Carrier.
The Restaurant Row segment was partially funded by a $24 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant that allowed construction to begin two years earlier than the Mountain Parkway Expansion’s initial schedule anticipated. U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear jointly sought the funding opportunity as part of their combined efforts to improve Eastern Kentucky, known as the SOAR Initiative (Shaping Our Appalachian Region).
“The people of Salyersville are excited for the improvements that will make the Parkway safer and more enjoyable to drive on, but we’re also excited about the increase in business it will bring to Salyersville,” said Salyersville Mayor Pete Shepherd. “As drivers travel along the Parkway, Salyersville now exists as an easily accessible rest stop destination for drivers who need to fill up on gas, get food, take a restroom break, and continue on their way.”
“After three years of dedicated work, Salyersville has undergone a major transformation in how traffic travels along the Parkway and through the town, extending access to this major traffic artery to more drivers throughout Eastern Kentucky,” says Carrier. “We thank the good people of Salyersville for their patience over the years. We’re looking forward to seeing all of the transformative safety improvements it will bring to those living in and travelling through the community.”