Governor Ernie Fletcher and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have announced a $23.7 million construction project to begin this year in Gallatin County.

North of the I-71/KY 35 interchange near Kentucky Speedway, the project will widen I-71 to six lanes for 3.2 miles and add a barrier wall.

"The reconstruction of the I-71 interchange is an example of our commitment to improving safety on our highways," said Governor Fletcher. "In addition, this project will increase the potential for future economic development opportunities and improve the quality of life for citizens of Gallatin County and Northern Kentucky."

The project will also reconstruct the I-71 interchange with KY 35 at Exit 57. This will include a new bridge on I-71 over KY 35 and replacement of three ramps at Exit 57.

"The additional lanes on I-71 and other improvements will help Kentucky's economy," said Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert. "The Kentucky Speedway is one of the country's premier racetracks. This project will make visits to this facility a smoother ride for Kentuckians and tourists alike."

The southbound exit ramp was widened to two lanes in 2004. The cost for that improvement was $1.6 million dollar. Faulkner Construction, from Louisville was awarded the project.

The anticipated completion date is the summer of 2008. Currently, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is completing the second phase of a new state route, KY 1039. The first section was opened in 2002. The second section began in 2004 and is on schedule to be completed by summer 2006. The new road will connect U.S. 42 at the Markland Dam to I-71 by the south end of the Kentucky Speedway. The two projects together cost $29 million dollars to build will add 6.8 miles and 10-foot shoulders.

"The Kentucky Speedway has meant a lot for tourism and economic development in Gallatin County," said Rep. Royce Adams (D-Dry Ridge). "These road projects will only further serve to enhance this."

"Kentucky's infrastructure plays a crucial role not only in the lives of Kentuckians, but in the future prosperity of our state," said Sen. Richard "Dick" Roeding (R-Lakeside Park). "I appreciate the work of Governor Fletcher and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in making this project a reality for the residents of Gallatin County, and for their continued efforts to move Kentucky forward."

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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