Corridor J is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, running from the end of Interstate 124 in Chattanooga, Tennessee north to Interstate 75 in London, Kentucky.
Project Type:Widening Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:21,218 Length (mi):243.50
Economic Distress:1.34 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):74 Population Growth Rate (%):0.84
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.73 Market Size:29,384 Airport Travel Distance:110.236 Topography:17
Region:Southeast State:KY County:Laurel, Pulaski, Wayne, Clinton, Cumberland
City:N/A Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:37.157912 / -84.246033
Initial Study Date:1969 Post Constr. Study Date:1995
Constr. Start Date:1970 Constr. End Date:1984
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1970 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):56,500,000 Actual Cost (curr $):339,228,621
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||90.00||50.47||140.47|
|Output (in $M's)||293.00||164.32||457.32|
Corridor J is a 243.5 mile highway corridor between London, KY to Chattanooga, TN, of which 102.7 miles in Kentucky comprise this case study. The project was conceived by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as a single highway improvement to promote overall economic development in Kentucky and Tennessee. The completed portions of the corridor were constructed in several separate projects over 14 years. The piecemeal manner of the improvement, the duration, and the multiple routes included obfuscate local perceptions of the actual Corridor alignment and its regional importance. Further, the prolonged and incomplete construction of the corridor in Tennessee has inhibited its connectivity benefits suggesting that its overall economic impact has yet to be realized. Nonetheless, the improvements along KY 80 between Somerset and London that comprise Corridor J facilitated notable economic development in both small urban communities. The project is responsible for an estimated 2,400 direct jobs.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
As part of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), Corridor J covers 243.5 miles from London, KY to Chattanooga, TN (via Cookeville, TN), of which 209.6 miles (86%) has been authorized for ADHS funding. This case study evaluates the 102.7 mile Kentucky portion, which includes several section improvements in five primarily rural counties, including Laurel, Pulaski, Wayne, Clinton and Cumberland.
From the Kentucky-Tennessee State Line, Corridor J travels north to Burkesville on KY 61 and then branches east via KY 90 to Burnside via Monticello. At Burnside, Corridor J turns north briefly (seven-miles) on to US 27 into Somerset. In Somerset it again turns east via KY 80 to London, where it intersects with I-75 and links with the eastward-bound (Louis B. Nunn Parkway, formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway).
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Spanning both rural and small urban communities, Corridor J characterizes the remoteness associated with Appalachia. Amidst rugged, mountainous terrain in southern Kentucky, Laurel County is intersected by I-75. To the east of I-75 is London, a small urban community and the county seat. Slightly west of I-75, the Daniel Boone National Forest comprises approximately 40% of the county. Similarly, about 20% of neighboring Pulaski County also lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Somerset, also a county seat and small urban community, is west of the park. Southwest of Somerset are located the rural counties of Wayne, Clinton and Cumberland.
Between 1969 and 2006, the population in the five-county area has grown 67% from 91,700 to 153,200. Employment grew more rapidly, from 29,800 to 82,600 (177%). The population and employment growth was led by Laurel County(City of London), which saw a doubling in population (109% increase) and a tripling in employment (316% increase).
Congress established the (ARC) in 1965 with the intent to promote economic and social development in the Appalachian Region. To achieve this goal, Congress authorized the arc to carry out a number of programs, including the development of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). The ADHS is a 3,571-mile near-interstate grade highway system composed of 31 corridors located in 13 Appalachian states with 3,090 miles eligible for improvement.
While the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) worked with the ARC and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in coordinating highway funding and construction, the KYTC did not undertake the project as a single corridor. Rather, the Corridor J widening project consisted of four primary route sections, each undertaken separately with a separate set of issues and objectives.
KY 80 is a 32-mile segment from the I-75/Louis B. Nunn Parkway juncture (north of London) to US 27 in Somerset. From I-75, the route is a four-lane divided highway with limited access for about six miles where it narrows to a two-lane highway with intermittent third passing-lanes for the next 17 miles, primarily through the Daniel Boone National Forest. At the juncture of KY 461, KY 80 expands back into a four-lane divided highway as it bypasses the Somerset urban center. The improvement addressed both regional and local traffic issues.
The KY 80 segment included improving connectivity between the small urban areas of London and Somerset, both of which are toll-road termini (Louis B. Nunn Parkway and the Cumberland Parkway, respectively). This improved connection across southern Kentucky is also part of the Kentucky-designated National Truck Network. In Somerset, a bypass was constructed to remove through traffic from narrow city streets and the downtown area.
The Corridor continues south along US 27 for seven miles through rural areas to intersect with KY 90. With the completion of the Cumberland Parkway in the early 1970's, and the development of the Somerset Mall (south of town) in the 1980's, traffic congestion and accident levels grew, resulting in subsequent expansion to 6-lanes in the late 1990's.
Corridor J then heads southeast along KY 90 for 50 rural miles through Burkesville, in Cumberland County, where it connects to KY 61. Concerned about increased through movements associated with the Corridor J designation, a bypass study of the Monticello community was undertaken in the early 1970's to develop an alignment that would avoid conflict with local residents and town traffic.
At Burkesville, Corridor J takes a hard left south on to KY 61 for 14 miles to the Tennessee State line. The alignment of the corridor south of the Burkesville town center ensures that through traffic avoids the town center congestion and pedestrian issues.
These original route improvement projects were started around 1968 and completed in 1984. As noted below, subsequent improvements have also occurred that affect transportation and economic impacts. Future corridor improvements under consideration include incorporating the project into two separate interstates. The north-south interstate alignment potential would be part of a future I-175 between Chattanooga, TN and Lexington, KY. The portion along Kentucky 80 is part of the potential I-66 corridor (part of the TransAmerica Corridor).
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The transportation impacts varied notably across the Corridor due to the various locales and environs. The reconstruction and widening of the existing segment of KY 80 provided a critical 4-lane expressway link across KY's southern region that facilitates cross-state transportation and other national connections. Specifically, the 32-mile segment connected the termini of the Louis B. Nunn Parkway in London, KY (to the east) and the termini of the Louis B. Nunn Parkway in Somerset, KY (to the west).
Initially, the Corridor J improvement along US 27 consisted of a four-lane widening of the short 7-mile segment west of the Somerset city center. Since then, two additional improvements ameliorated traffic congestion associated with local urban growth. The US 27 expansion from four to six lanes provided additional capacity on the primary Corridor J route, while the alternative KY 914 Bypass provided an opportunity to avoid the Somerset urban traffic entirely.
In addition to the overall widening and shoulder improvements associated with the 50-mile segment along KY 90, the Monticello Bypass component accommodates through traffic while preserving the quality of life issues associated with the small urban town center (i.e., peaceful residential environment devoid of large through-truck traffic).
A 1998 study evaluated the transportation impacts associated with ten of the 26 ARC corridors, including Corridor J. The analysis addressed the varying traffic volumes associated with the rural and urban corridor settings. The reconstructed route shaved 5.7 miles off the route resulting in a reduction of 29.4 million vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) annually (5% drop), and cut the drive time by over 29%, resulting in annual time savings of 4.4 million vehicle-hours-traveled (VHT). This breaks down into a 14% estimated reduction in truck VHT (0.4 million hour savings) and a 32% in car VHT (4.0 million hour savings). The documented traffic impacts exclude the subsequent US 27 widening to six-lanes and the KY 914 bypass in Somerset, which occurred the 1998 analysis. The subsequent improvements likely have further reduced VHT.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The 1998 ADHS study also evaluated the economic development implications of the completed ADHS road sections. Specifically, the study evaluated how the transport cost savings (i.e., time, vehicle operating cost, and accidents) affected the Appalachian Region in terms of industry competitiveness, retail expenditures and tourism. In doing so, the study found that the completed KY sections of Corridor J saved road users an estimated $16.1 million annually in 1995, with savings forecast to rise to $100.5 million annually by the year 2024.
Regional population grew 49% (from 91,700 to 163,700) between the outset of Corridor J improvements in KY (1969) to the 1995 benchmark year. Since then, development has continued. While most counties within the corridor have seen population and employment growth between the various years, the development has varied notably, as discussed below.
In Laurel County, the KY 80 widening and shoulder improvements facilitated regional truck transport between London and Somerset. This led to the subsequent development of a four-lane divided, limited access spur stretching approximately six-miles west of I-75. This facilitated considerable commercial and residential development including a major Wal-Mart distribution facility serving a seven-state region, and two major call centers (including the national #511 roadside assistance), as well as an automotive part supplier. Combined, these businesses employ an estimated 1,500-2,000 people. Clearly, these jobs would not be located in the region were it not for I-75. Similarly, most would not have located in London were it not for the four-lane divided highway improvement. The four-lane highway improvement was a result of rising regional demand associated with the original Corridor J improvements between London and Somerset.
Without the four-lane KY 80 improvement in Pulaski County from the Louis B Nunn Parkway (intersection of KY 27) to KY 461 (east of the town center), Somerset would have been unable to accommodate the population growth that has occurred. Overall, the county population grew by 69% from 35,100 in 1969 to 53,700 in 2006. Similarly, without the widening of US 27 south of the Parkway, the Somerset Mall and the related commercial development would not have occurred. The Corridor J highway improvements facilitated urban growth since 1995 leading to a further widening of US 27 to six-lanes and the construction of a KY 914 bypass southeast of Somerset. This bypass and the original widening of KY 80 east of Somerset provided the necessary highway infrastructure to facilitate the development of two industrial parks, currently employing a total of 1,700.
In Wayne County, the new bypass constructed in the early/mid 1970's around Monticello city center opened new land for development and facilitated through traffic movements, as did the overall widening of KY 90. In turn, the highway facilitated regional growth with employment growing from 3,900 in 1969 to 9,000 in 2006,
While Corridor J did not turn remote Clinton County into an urban center, it was instrumental in the attraction of a major chicken processing facility that employs over 1,400 people. The KY 90 segment is used by both inbound trucks carrying chickens from regional farms and outbound trucks transporting the processed poultry. Such development has led to indirect retail development such as a Wal-Mart and a notable strip mall (around 200 jobs), as well as the educational development of a KCTCS Technical Community College in Albany (just south of the Corridor).
The least- populated and isolated Cumberland County has seen little population change since 1969 (0.6%). While the Corridor improvements facilitated through traffic, it did not include any notable improvements or bypasses that opened-up new land for development. Little economic development is associated with the Corridor.
While it is difficult for local business people and officials to attribute employment directly to the Corridor, especially given the long time horizon since Corridor construction, the facility did help attract 1,500-2,000 direct jobs in London (Laurel County), 1,700 jobs in Somerset (Pulaski County), and 1,400 jobs in Clinton County. Of these 4,600-5,100 jobs, the influence of the Corridor widening and other improvements could be assessed at 50%. Moreover, the Corridor improvements helped vitalize the communities and connect them with the overall interstate system. By doing so, the Corridor improvements played a major factor in the communities' success in maintaining existing job levels as local workforces evolve and industries come and go.
The Corridor lies within the remote Appalachian region of southern Kentucky and is characterized by mountainous terrain with a large National Park. For this reason, the region has been relatively isolated from the rest of the economic development in the eastern United States.
KYTC -Highway District#8
Lake Cumberland Area Development District
Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation
Case Study Developed by Wilbur Smith Associates