An outer loop connection in Owensboro is not feasible at this time, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced Thursday morning. KYTC said the decision was “based on the current conditions, traffic projections, engineering analysis, and public feedback.”
A full report documenting the study process and findings will be available on the KYTC Planning website (transportation.ky.gov/Planning) by mid-fall, according to a release.
“The response from this project was considerable, with 2,439 surveys completed, numerous Facebook and Twitter comments, and several emails received — all of which have been considered by the project team,” the release reads.
The project team consisted KYTC, the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a consultant.
During a public meeting on June 17, more than 200 concerned residents showed up expressing their desire to have a seat at the table as discussions continued about the feasibility of an outer loop around Owensboro.
Jason Strode, one of the organizers of the meeting, said they came together because the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet claimed the stakeholders of the community talked about the plan — but Strode said he and other farmers were not reached.
“We’re the people that own the land, we’re the people that are going to pay for the road, and we’re the people who had to live with it,” Strode said. “So, we consider ourselves the largest stakeholders in all this.”
MPO Coordinator Tom Lovett said a month ago the project for the outer loop was only to conduct a study to see how feasible it was to produce the road — not to actually build it at this time.
“It was just the study to look at, does it make sense?” Lovett said. “Would it make sense sometime down the road to consider doing this?”
The study wasn’t meant to evolve into the outer loop immediately, he said. The study was meant to gauge the land — like what some issues are in the area that need to be addressed — and then poll the county on if they would like to make the outer loop.
Lovett said the responses during the survey period were so overwhelming, they considered ending the survey early but ultimately decided not to.
At the time, noting the project wasn’t likely for the “foreseeable future,” Lovett said that does not rule the loop out in the future. Should Owensboro need to expand and the idea was to arise, they are able to look at this study as a starting point for where potential expansion areas are best located.
Local farmers and other members of the community wasted no time voicing their opposition as soon as the feasibility study was announced. Online and written petitions were circulated, signs reading “Families & Farms. Not Freeways.” were made and placed in yards, and a Facebook Group called “Stop the Outer Loop” was formed.