DCPS approves sale of right of way in front of Highland

Sara Harley

The Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education approved Thursday to sell a right of way in front of Highland Elementary School to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The sale will garner $217,000 for the school district and will provide for them a turning lane into the school, something that DCPS Director of Finance Sara Harley said is a "good deal."

"We will get that turn lane and we don't want to stand in the way of progress, obviously," Harley said.

The right of way sale is happening ahead of the state's proposed plan to widen Kentucky 54 that is still in the planning stages. Widening Kentucky 54 from U.S. 60 eastward is in the six-year state road plan, with $13 million for right-of-way acquisition, $17.73 million for utility relocation and $33.75 million in construction funding in 2019-20, for a total of $64.5 million.

The Kentucky 54 project will consist of four segments and, depending on the traffic count, could involve the addition of lanes, added turning lanes, widening lanes and the addition of shoulders -- basically upgrades across the board to address the growth of the area.

DCPS is essentially selling less than one-tenth of an acre. In exchange, the state will be providing a turning lane for vehicles headed to the school.

"One-tenth of an acre for $200,000-plus is pretty good," said board chairman Tom Payne.

Harley said it's her understanding that the state will put in a right-turn lane headed "as you're going toward the bypass," which in the long run will be a "big benefit" to the district. There currently isn't a turning lane, and if anyone has ever tried going down Kentucky 54 on a school day around 7 a.m., they know how problematic that area can be, she said.

The money from the sale will be placed into the district's general fund and part of it will go to the school for them to rebuild signage, as the signs in front will have to be taken down and moved.

The district's long-term plan includes moving Highland onto land recently purchased for the site of its new Daviess County Middle School on property adjacent to Gateway Commons, the new lifestyle center off of Kentucky 54. District officials are aware the property on which Highland sits is highly-sought after at this time.

District Superintendent Matt Robbins said based on how much the district is getting per square foot -- about $24.19 -- for the right of way, that factors into $1 million per acre, which could work out in the district's favor if or when they decide to sell the land on which Highland sits.

"It's very valuable land right now," Harley said.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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