The Left Overloop – US 60/KY 4Maggie Downs2020-08-24T11:14:33-04:00
The Left Overloop – US 60/KY 4
Here in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, the world’s most magnificent thoroughbred racehorses dot the hillsides of idyllic, rolling green pastures enclosed by white wooden horse fences. As you travel between the cities of Lexington and Versailles, Kentucky, near the intersection of US60 and KY4, you will encounter iconic, ivied Keeneland Racecourse and legendary Calumet Farm. Boasting six Kentucky Derby Winners and three Triple Crown Winners, Calumet Farm is characterized by its green-roofed barns painted white with red trim. Simply put, it is the most famous horse farm in the world.
Yet for decades, untouchable Calumet Farm and the equestrian environs contributed to a thorny engineering challenge. Since its opening in 1965, the three-loop cloverleaf connecting New Circle Road (KY4) with Versailles Road (US60) near downtown Lexington had become increasingly dangerous. The interchange posed several problems, chief among them two dangerous weaves. As one local newspaper reporter put it: “I have never been more frightened in Lexington trafﬁc than when I had to try to exit New Circle Road onto Versailles Road with a tractor-trailer on my rear bumper and another one trying to get onto New Circle.”
In typical circumstances, this would be an easy roadway engineering fix. However, given the signature topography, aesthetic needs complicated what could have otherwise been a straightforward project. An unnecessarily “overbuilt” solution, for example, one requiring unsightly traffic signals or several new overpasses, would spoil the special sense of place of Kentucky horse country on this stretch of highway referred to as “The Gateway to the Bluegrass.”
Our solution is what we believe to be a firstof- its-kind interchange that we’ve dubbed the Left Overloop. This new interchange loop type ramp configuration realigned the existing right turn loop as a left turning overpass, eliminating conflicting weave movements. The inventive, affordable solution may enable highway engineers to solve problems where space or funding is not available for traditional flyover directional interchange reconstruction.
Ultimately, we see this project as one of ‘preservation.’ We preserved motorist safety, taxpayer dollars, and the unique sense of place of “The Gateway to the Bluegrass.”
As prime consultant for the project, Louisville, Kentucky based Qk4, Inc. performed roadway design, bridge design, traffic engineering, community involvement, and project management.
Our teammates included Edward Holmes for public involvement and Roadway Engineering, Third Rock Consultants for aquatic and terrestrial analysis, and AMEC for archaeology and cultural historic analysis.
Future Value to Engineering
Our inventive solution may have application for other outdated cloverleaf interchanges commonly built at major route junctions on our Interstate system and other major expressways. This left overloop reconstruction option may enable highway engineers to solve problems where space and/or funding is not available for traditional flyover directional interchange reconstruction. It certainly may extend current engineering FHWA endorsed Performance Based Practical Design (PBPD) thinking.
In fact, the solution has proved immediately applicable to another busy interchange. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is now considering this novel solution for Louisville’s I-64/I-265 interchange.
The reconstructed interchange facilitates access to Keeneland Racecourse and Bluegrass Airport—two vital components of Lexington’s economy. It will also help ease traffic and safety around Keeneland, thereby making it even more attractive for a convenient place for equestrian events, for example, the Breeder’s Cup.
Versailles Road (US 60) is also a gateway to jobs from daily commuters from as far away as Bardstown, more than an hour west of Lexington.
As mentioned, the complexity of this project was in preserving the sense of place of the Bluegrass, which meant operating within the existing interchange footprint, and without creating an obtrusive solution. An unnecessarily “overbuilt” solution, for example, one requiring unsightly traffic signals or several new overpasses, would spoil the splendid sense of place of Kentucky horse country on this stretch of highway referred to as “The Gateway to the Bluegrass.”
The ingenuity of the solution in order to achieve the project’s goals included adding a flyover to bring eastbound Versailles Road travelers up and over Versailles Road to enter northbound New Circle Road. The solution eliminated two dangerous weaves at once, while preserving budget, because no additional right-of-way was needed.