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Murray, Calloway Support Joint Effort To Acquire Federal Grant To Widen U.S. 641

Matt Markgraf
Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins (second from left) and Murray Mayor Jack Rose (right) held a joint meeting on Monday to pass resolutions supporting an application for BUILD funds to complete the long-sought widening of U.S. 641.

Calloway County and the City of Murray are together supporting an effort to secure a federal grant to complete the widening of U.S. 641 south of Murray to the Tennessee state line.

The Fiscal Court and City Council approved resolutions Monday evening during a joint meeting.

Widening the corridor to four lanes is an initiative long sought by local leaders to improve safety and boost economic development.

Officials hope the effort will improve the community's chances of securing a $25 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant. That amount is the maximum awarded.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation website, total BUILD funding is $1.5 billion. The website notes "DOT intends to award a greater share of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas..." At least 30% of the total funding will be awarded to rural projects. Criteria to be evaluated include "safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership, and additional non-Federal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments."

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 Engineer Mike McGregor said the expansion project is divided into two sections: from Glendale Road south of Murray to Clarks River, then from Clarks River to the state line (near Hazel). He said two more properties need to be acquired in the northern section. Following utility relocation, the north section would then move to construction. The BUILD grant would encompass the southern section of the project. KYTC District 1 Project Development Branch Manager Chris Kuntz said some preliminary design work has been done in the south side. Engineers estimate all phases of the road project would total between $35-40 million.

If approved, the money would be leveraged with local and state fundingto complete the project by 2025. The city and county would each commit $500,000 contingent on the grant funding.

Pointing to funding shortages at the local, state and national level, Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins said, "This may be our last and best chance for the foreseeable future to get this road built."

Preliminary engineering work on the Tennessee side is listed in the state’s three-year road plan beginning in 2019.

Officials expect to know whether they will receive funding by December 18.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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