PMC moving forward with underground pedestrian tunnel project

Pikeville Medical Center is moving forward on building a pedestrian walkway tunnel under KY...
Pikeville Medical Center is moving forward on building a pedestrian walkway tunnel under KY 1426 (S. Bypass Road) to connect their main campus to other outpatient services and the Riverfill parking area.(WYMT)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 10:13 AM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - In an effort to help keep employees, patients, and visitors from having to cross a busy highway to get to their facility, officials with Pikeville Medical Center announced they are moving forward with plans for an underground pedestrian tunnel.

Pikeville Medical Center officials said the tunnel will run under Bypass Road and will allow people to move from the Riverfill parking lot near the Primary Care Clinic and Rehabilitation Center to PMC’s main campus quickly and safely.

“There’s going to be a little inconvenience that will occur over the next couple of weeks,” said PMC CEO Donovan Blackburn. “But it will have long-term benefit and long-term effect in assuring that our patients, visitors, and employees are safe.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) estimates that nearly 11,000-14,000 vehicles flow through the stretch of road on a daily basis.

“This intersection sees a lot of traffic, as well as a lot of pedestrian traffic,” said Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick. “If you come through at certain times of the day, you’ll notice delays at the traffic light. So the addition of this pedestrian walkway would certainly reduce those delays and help traffic flow more smoothly.”

PMC sees more than 450,000 patients per year and employs more than 3,000 people. The hospital is also a teaching hospital for medical students in the area. KYTC officials say the possibility of vehicles or pedestrian wrecks should be reduced dramatically once the pedestrian traffic is removed from the roadway.

“This is going to have so many wonderful effects in the name of safety,” Blackburn said. “This will really expedite traffic flow in and out of the hospital.”

The project, contracted by Jig Saw Enterprises, will consist of a concrete structure measuring 108 feet long, 10 feet wide, and eight feet high. The tunnel will include lighting throughout the walkway and both entrances as well as security cameras to make sure employees and visitors will remain safe at all hours of the day.

KYTC officials say, starting Monday, April 26, the stretch of KY 1426, or Bypass Road, will be closed between the two main PMC entrances for at least three weeks for construction. After the road re-opens, construction for the tunnel will continue.

“When you have a cross drain that runs underneath the road, you close the road, you saw the pavement, you take the pavement off, put the new drain down in there, and then you put the pavement back,” said KYTC Dist. 12 Information Officer Sara George. “That’s basically what’s happening here.”

Signs and message boards will be in place around the city to help ease changes in traffic flow during construction. Large trucks are encouraged to follow the signage to make sure they enter the campus on the Harold’s Branch side of the hospital, while emergency vehicles will be permitted to enter both entrances.

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