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The state Transportation Cabinet has closed part of Howardstown Road (Ky. 247) because of a road slide that worsened over the weekend.
The section closed to through traffic until further notice is 1.5 miles south of Big Lick Hollow Road and 2.3 miles north of Ky. 84.
A press release sent out Monday by the cabinet said Department of Highways crews have been monitoring the deteriorating conditions for weeks, but the conditions have been aggravated by recent rains.
Barricades have been set up on both sides of the closure to prevent vehicles from getting through.
Signs have been posted at the Ky. 84 intersection on the south end and the Ky. 52 intersection on the north end to notify drivers of the closure and restrict traffic only to residents of the area.
Detours have been set up from Ky. 84 to U.S. 31 E and Ky. 52 for northbound traffic, and vice versa for southbound traffic.
The cabinet said technical crews are looking at the situation to determine whether any temporary solutions are feasible.
A long-term solution, however, may take years, county officials said Tuesday.
At the Nelson County Fiscal Court meeting that morning, Nelson County Judge-Executive Dean Watts said he had just attended a funeral at St. Ann’s Church in Howardstown Monday, and the road was closed at noon because the pavement had fallen “another six to eight inches over the weekend.”
He said he was able to go over the road and didn’t have a problem, but he slowed down.
Watts said the state is aware of it, but added: “You can’t fix something like this overnight. It’s been going on for years.”
Jim Lemieux, county engineer and road department supervisor, said the problem is that the Rolling Fork River is eating away at the road from underneath while a hillside is pushing down on it from above.
The best solution, he said, would be to “move the hill” and re-channel the river, but that would cost many millions of dollars.
“It’s a tough one to fix,” he said.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Ky. 247 is a major state road, Lemieux said.
Magistrate Sam Hutchins said the problem has existed for at least the six years he’s been on the court.
Nelson County Magistrate Keith Metcalfe, whose district the road is in, said that shutting it down was the right decision.
“We’ve gotten lots of comments over the last four or five days about the safety of the road, but we’re doing all we can do, and I think the highway department is doing what they can do,” Watts said.
Editor's note: This article was originally published by The Kentucky Standard in Bardstown.