Photo: Brian Shlonsky
Three months after opening a new expressway interchange, residents and businesses are still awaiting completion of the project, which has been over 20 years in the making.
The Westport Road-Watterson Expressway exit and entrance ramps were officially opened on April 29, as part of a $47 million dollar project that Kentucky’s state government first authorized in 1986. However, completion of the project, which includes the widening of Westport Road to Hubbards Lane, may not be finished for another month.
“We are working towards getting the widening done by the middle of August, barring a lot of inclement weather and heavy rains,” said Andrea Clifford of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet .
The widening was originally slated for completion on May 1, but was delayed due to harsh weather in January and February.
Many of the businesses affected by the widening are located about a half-mile from the Westport-Watterson interchange in Westport Village, an outdoor specialty shopping center that was opened in 2008.
“We are very much looking forward to them finishing the widening of Westport Road,” said Chuck Ellis, owner of Chuck and Mike’s Tennis Shop located in Westport Village. “The new interchange has made travel much easier for customers from Indiana and E-Town, but Shelbyville Road is so packed with traffic, especially around Christmas, the Westport widening will be much needed by then when everyone is shopping more.”
Alan and Lucy Steilberg have lived in the same home in Woodlawn Park since June of 1959, watching Westport Road develop over the years.
“I have a real concern turning left out of the neighborhood with all the added traffic," Lucy Steilberg said. “The construction has made it more difficult than ever to drive on Westport, especially with the traffic cones and shifting lanes.”
The Steilberg’s enjoy the convenience of not waiting at traffic lights to get to the expressway, but realize the importance of the project’s completion.
“They did a good job with the interchange, drawing traffic away from the Shelbyville and Brownsboro Road exits,” Alan Steilberg said, “but obviously the road can’t handle what the interchange can provide, so it makes it difficult until they finish the widening.”