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The planned Route 66 expansion over Route 80 through Somerset east to Shopville and beyond is dead. This road cuts through the historical lands of Pulaski County’s first judge-executive and founder John M. James (1751-1823). The Louisville Courier-Journal reported yesterday, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has halted work on the highway, concluding, “There is little prospect that construction funds will be available in the foreseeable future.”
For a couple of years, I was a consulting party for I-66, representing The James Preservation Trust and the historical interests of the James family. I’m pleased the project’s been rendered comatose.
Particularly distressing during the review process was the despicable practice of the Transportation Cabinet to rename historical properties in the road’s path, despite panel objections. Long historic names were removed. Historical properties were re-identified by the names of current occupants. This corruption was intended to avoid potential mitigation for historical properties. Panel objections voiced during public hearings were voided by the Transportation Cabinet.
Also, a construction permit was granted at Route 80 & James Rd. for a gravel pit and mine on a site where enslaved where known to have been interred. This location was for former site of the James mansion house, once occupied by Rev. Jeremiah & Betsy James Vardeman, Rev. Daniel Fields James, and Sen. Jack Griffin. This site was planned for a roadway interchange linking Route 80 to a newly constructed by-pass around Somerset.
As a 4th great grandson of Pulaski County’s first judge-executive & founder, John M. James, I don’t believe John would have objected to this road through his historic lands, where the road truly needed. Traffic projections, however, concluded the road isn’t needed at all, now nor in the foreseeable future.