Chamber recommends US 421 project be completed

Nola Sizemore Staff Writer

September 3, 2013

During a recent meeting of the Harlan Chamber of Commerce, board member Dan Mosley said he had recently attended a chamber transportation meeting about the county’s current transportation needs. He added the purpose of the meeting was to have a plan in place available to those legislators representing Harlan County before they return to the legislative session in January.

“At that meeting it was a unanimous decision that our top priority be the completion of U.S. 421 south to the Virginia line,” said Mosley. “That is also my recommendation to the chamber.”

Mosley said the completion of U.S. 421 south has been sent for re-scoping multiple times in the last decade. He added there has never been any type of new construction done on that project in the last 10 years.

“What we’re asking is that the final recommendation by the Transportation Cabinet, department officials conducted, be put into motion and complete that road,” he said.

The portion of U.S. 421 south is 3 ½ miles of single-lane narrow roadway to the Virginia line, which has not finished to date.

Mosley said the completion of this project would benefit the county in a multiple of ways at this point.

“Economic, tourism, safety and most recently the health situation due to the pending closing of Lee Regional Medical Center in Pennington, Gap, (Va.). People will have to travel for health care somewhere and the closest option for many of those people will be Harlan,” said Mosley. “The other thing is, before the passing of Frank Robinette, he worked with the Department of Transportation and legislators in southwest Virginia and, basically, they stated they were not going to come from Pennington Gap to the Kentucky state line until Kentucky finished its part of the final 3 ½ miles. I totally understand that, they don’t want to build into an incomplete project.”

Giving credit to the late Gayle Lawson and the late Delzinna Belcher, Mosley said these two ladies were instrumental in getting that project started in the first place back in the 1990s. He said the last funding appropriated, as far as construction on the road, came under Gov. Paul Patton.

Chamber member Ralph Souleyret made a motion that the chamber send a letter to Harlan Fiscal Court asking that the completion of U.S. 421 south also be a top priority for the county. That motion was seconded and all agreed.

Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, nsizemore@civitasmedia.com