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Study to be done on northern Kentucky road 536

INDEPENDENCE, Ky. (Joe Webb) -- They say if you build it, they will come but for parts of rural northern Kentucky, they came before the roads were built.

Now there's renewed talk of creating a decent east-west connection from Alexandria to Union.  Kentucky-536 winds its way across all three counties.  A new study has been approved to figure out how to fix the worst stretch of it.

KY-536 runs about 20 miles from Rabbit Hash in Boone County to US-27 in Alexandria in Campbell County.  And it runs through some serious growth areas.  It's good road in Independence but east of here it gets narrow and winding.
OKI just approved a study for that bad section of road in hopes there is eventually a good way to go east and west through here.  For 44 years, Marvin Huffman has lived on the stretch of Kentucky 536 that's the focus of the OKI study.  He told me a story about hauling hay on 536 the first year he lived here.

"I came up the road at 11 o'clock at night with a team of horses and a wagon and never met a car.  I didn't even have a flashlight or nothin' with me in case one did come.  You better believe it.  On weekends, you can hardly get out of your driveway now," Huffman said.

Marvin had trouble getting out with his mower Friday afternoon.  He says trucks use 536 as a shortcut from I-75 to US-27 and the AA highway.  It is hilly, has some sharp curves and limited visibility.  The crash rate there is 3.5 times the average for a state route in Kentucky of that nature.  That's one reason OKI has approved 300,000 dollars to study the section of 536 from Kentucky-17 to the Licking River. 

It's one of the last key pieces of the 20 mile run that doesn't have some funding for an upgrade.  As northern Kentucky has grown, north-south roads have been improved.  Not so much for the east to west roads.

Bob Koehler, deputy executive director of OKI, said, "You have 275 in about the 1/3 point of the counties.  But in the lower part of these 3 counties there's no legitimate corridor to carry east-west traffic efficiently and safely."
The study was approved earlier this week.  But it's just a study. There's no money or timetable yet for design or construction.
At least partial funding is in place for improvements to much of this 20-mile stretch.  536 is  a difficult fix because it covers three counties and is a patchwork of several different roads that were combined to make a state route.  536 has nine different names: Hathaway, Mt. Zion, Bristow, Shaw, Harris, Staffordsburg and Visalia Roads to name a few.

The 300,000 dollar study is paid for with local OKI funds and federal grant money.

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