County hears improvement plan for US-421 from Virginia line

Published 4:54 pm Monday, May 8, 2023

During a recent meeting, the Harlan County Fiscal Court heard an update on plans for a section of US-421 which runs from the Virginia state line through the Cranks area.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley called on Magistrate Robert Leo Miller for his input during the roads and bridges section of the meeting.

“I do want to bring up a big project for Harlan County,” Miller said. “I’ve been made aware a contract has been awarded for $28 million (for US-421) from the Virginia line to start in the fall.”

According to Miller, the construction will make improvements, including rerouting a curve that has proven dangerous.

“The curve will be taken out,” Miller said. “I talked to the Governor (Andy Beshear) last week and thanked him, and he said he will be down for a groundbreaking in the next few months.”

Miller added Beshear is excited about the project.

“I want to thank the governor most importantly because he’s the one who put it in the budget originally,” Miller said. “The governor committed to this before the election. I think we need to give him credit. It’s a very big day for Harlan County when they get started.”

Mosley pointed out the project has been in the works for many years.

“The project started when Paul Patton was governor,” Mosley said. “Paul Patton thought the project had been completed, only to find out that money had been stripped after he was no longer governor. The new governor came in and took the money to Whitley County. Getting that started back is huge. It’s something that’s been long lobbied for and anticipated by a lot of people here in our neck of the woods.”

Mosley commended another individual involved in the project.

“I want to thank Chief Engineer Chris Jones,” Mosley said. “He has come up with a really solid plan on how to get that started…All the previous documentation on it would have started at Barn Branch and went to the Virginia (state) line. This actually will start at the Virginia line and work its way back and address the most dangerous sections of that highway first. We really appreciate Chris’s commitment to that as well.”

Both Mosley and Miller expressed their appreciation to Governor Beshear, former State Senator Johnny Turner, current State Senator Johnny Turner and Representative Adam Bowling for their roles in getting the project approved.

“It’s really been a bipartisan effort to get this done,” Mosley said. “Highway construction isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s a people issue. They’ve really worked in a bipartisan spirit to get this accomplished. The governor committed early on––four years ago––to get this thing started back. They’ve definitely honored their commitment.”

Mosley pointed out the project is important to Harlan County for several reasons.

“It’s much needed for safety, economic benefit and tourism reasons,” Mosley said.