US 119 over Pine Mountainladams2017-12-13T14:03:35-05:00
US 119 over Pine Mountain
Letcher County, Kentucky
This seven-mile stretch of US 119 over Pine Mountain in Eastern Kentucky was built in the 1920’s atop old logging trails. Narrow driving lanes, switchbacks, steep grades, and sheer drops — with no shoulders — made crossing Pine Mountain a risky experience. Safety concerns became severe.
Because they could not traverse existing horizontal curves without crossing into the opposing traffic lane, in March 2001 all vehicles more than thirty feet in length were banned from this portion of US 119. Compounding the problem, steep vertical grades and lack of passing created traffic backups behind slower moving vehicles – which in turn meant dangerous, sometimes fatal, attempts to pass.
The project successfully addressed the challenges of the existing mountain road; widening curves by removing or shaving off rock outcroppings and adding truck lanes in some areas.
KYTC and the QK4 team took a non-traditional approach to accommodate large tractor-trailers. We added two 14-foot lanes with a center pavement used for truck paths and safety buffers.
In some areas, we offset the median striping on each side to accommodate the sweep path of these large vehicles. This design allowed larger vehicles to pass each other safely. The design also helped preserve Pine Mountain’s beauty and sensitive natural environment, which is home to more than 93 species of rare plants and animals.
In the Kentucky Transportation Center’s “Evaluation of US 119 Pine Mountain Safety Improvements – Final Report,” 100% of survey respondents agreed that safety and mobility had improved. Additionally, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that impacts to the human environment (95.7 %) and natural environment (91.3%) were minimized.