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Old 10-12-2008, 07:34 AM
 
Location: NOVA
4,521 posts, read 4,972,074 times
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Pioneer News Online (http://www.pioneernews.net/cgi-bin/storyviewnew.cgi?093+News.2008109-1830-093-093007.Full+News - broken link)

By THOMAS J. BARR, Editor

CLERMONT - When a grant request was made for over $2 million last year to beautify the five interchanges along Interstate 65 in Bullitt County, Elaine Wilson knew it was a worthy project. And the state officials agreed. However, in denying the large request, officials recommended breaking the project down into smaller proposals. On its second bite at the apple, the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission received approval on the first of what is hoped to be five grants to beautify the Highway 245 interchange.

Gov. Steve Beshear recently announced a $480,000 Transportation Enhancement (TE) investment to beautify Exit 112 on Interstate 65. “The exit will be transformed into an inviting gateway to Kentucky,” said Beshear. “When you consider the thousands of motorists who travel this stretch of I-65 each day, this is a great investment.” Wilson, executive director of the tourist and convention commission, said she was overjoyed at the news. “We’re very excited about the grant,” said Wilson. ‘We appreciate the support of the state and the support of the community.” When the initial grand plan to beautify all five interchanges was shot down, Wilson said that the suggestion was made to begin with one project at a time. The local committee working on the project felt it was wise to apply for the Highway 245 interchange first. “It is the entrance to the Bourbon Trail,” said Wilson. “And two of our major tourist attractions are located close to the interchange.” Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has long been a visitors’ attraction and the Jim Beam American Outpost across the street has also welcomed many tourists.

On the day the beautification grant was announced, Beam officials broke the news of a multi-million dollar Visitors’ Experience to replace the American Outpost. The improved tourist attraction would include tours of the distillery. “We wanted to make sure we have a premier entrance to those two attractions,” said Wilson. A part of the project’s success was the multi-county support as Nelson County officials also went to bat for the Bullitt County project. “Bardstown and Nelson County has long been a major tourist attraction and they were very interested in supporting this effort,” said Wilson. “Many of the tourists will use Highway 245 to reach Bardstown.” Much of the beautiful work will involve making the entire interchange more aesthetically pleasing to motorists.

Plans include the installation of traditional Kentucky four-board fencing, exposed limestone rock ledges and walls and stamped concrete medians that resemble the stone features found in the Knobs region. Also, a design team from Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest will work will local officials to landscape the interchange with native plants. Wetland vegetation will be placed in streams to help improve drainage conditions and to improve groundwater infiltration. Wilson said Bernheim experts would know what is needed in the area. And being a major benefactor from the improvements, Wilson said they want to take a very active role. Other improvements could include signage and lighting issues.

The work done by Bernheim and other entities would count as part of the county’s 20 percent match for the grant. Bullitt Fiscal Court budgeted some funds for the project. “It’s a big, big win for the community,” said Wilson. In the future, she expects the right development to grow in the area. Bullitt County has already donated property for the construction of a new community and technical college, which is currently holding classes at the former judicial facility on Buffalo Run Road. “There is just no way to estimate how important this is,” said Wilson.

Already, promotion by the state and by individual tourist commissions on the Bourbon Trail has led to additional tourists, which means more restaurant, gas and hotel money. “This project will highlight the pride Kentuckians have in their communities,” said state transportation secretary Joe Prather. “This investment will pay dividends far beyond the Bullitt County line.” Wilson expects some movement on the project within a year. The committee would next look at the second interchange to be done. She expects that to be the Exit 121/Brooks Road interchange. The funding is part of the TE program, which are federal funds administered by the state transportation cabinet.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Kentucky
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How wonderful!
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