PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Governor Matt Bevin joined leaders from across the region at Pikeville Medical Center Friday afternoon to announce a $575,000 project aimed at improving employee and patient safety.
The project, a tunnel connecting the hospital's main campus to its Riverfill parking area, will eliminate an ongoing concern of patients and workers crossing the often congested South Bypass Rd.
"I've been on that road, seeing people wait to dart across," said Gov. Bevin. "I've driven down that road and you panic a little."
PMC President and CEO Donovan Blackburn said the hospital considered an overhead structure but decided a tunnel would better serve the campus.
"In doing so, it not only promotes safety, but it promotes economic development," Blackburn said.
Blackburn said connecting the Riverfill area to the hospital will provide more options for growth.
"The third part of it is flood protection," Blackburn added. "It's a great project for us, the community, and - more important - our 3,000 ambassadors that call Pikeville Medical center their place of work."
Governor Bevin said he also sees multiple ways the tunnel would benefit the area.
"There's no question that it's safer. And not just for the pedestrians, but it's safer for the people on the road," Gov. Bevin said. "Safety and economic development. That's why we invest in projects. And this one provides for the safety of this staff, who in turn provide for the community."
The project will be funded by discretionary funding and includes property on both city and state jurisdiction. Blackburn said that means there are a few moving parts that will need to be in place before construction can begin.
Blackburn expects to see movement on the project by the beginning of 2020.