New Circle Road

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Kentucky Route 4 marker

Kentucky Route 4
New Circle Road
Route information
Maintained by KYTC
Length19.283 mi[1] (31.033 km)
Major junctions
Beltway around Lexington
  US 27 in Lexington
US 68 in Lexington
US 60 in Lexington
US 421 in Lexington
US 25 in Lexington
Highway system
KY 3KY 5

New Circle Road, also known as Kentucky Route 4, is a Kentucky state highway that serves as an inner beltway around Lexington, which is part of the consolidated city-county government with Fayette County.

The state designates the start and finish of the road at its interchange with Nicholasville Road on the city's south side. Exit numbering increases as one travels clockwise.

Roughly three-fourths of the highway is limited-access, with all movements controlled at 10 interchanges. The remainder is classified as an urban principal arterial highway with a heavy mix of driveway entrances and intersections with one single-point urban interchange at US 60 (Winchester Road) and a diverging diamond interchange at US 68 (Harrodsburg Road). The dividing line between the limited-access segment and the urban arterial highway is US 25 (Richmond and Georgetown Roads) north and east of the city. The speed limit is 55 mph (89 km/h) on the freeway section and 45 mph (72 km/h) on the urban arterial highway.

New Circle Road suffers serious traffic congestion during rush hour due to the lack of other freeways running through the city. Harrodsburg Road, Nicholasville Road, Tates Creek Road, and Newtown Pike also suffer serious congestion because of people trying to get on New Circle and head out of downtown Lexington.


New Circle Road was constructed in several segments from 1950 to 1967[2] as a circumferential bypass. The first segment to be built, from KY 922 (Newtown Pike) to US 25 (Richmond Road)/US 421, was constructed by the city of Lexington in 1952 as two-lane connector road.[3] The original section included at-grade intersections at Palumbo Drive, KY 1927 (Liberty Road), KY 57 (Bryan Station Road), Old Paris Pike, US 27/US 68, and at KY 353 (Russell Cave Road), with one interchange at US 60 (Winchester Road). This segment of the road is also known as the Northern Belt Line or the US 25 Bypass.[4]

To help finance the construction of the original 1952 portion, driveway access was sold to property owners along the route.[5] At the time of construction, this area was mostly rural and surrounded by horse farms, as Lexington had not yet begun to sprawl out that far.

After the opening, this section experienced rapid growth and the need to widen it to four lanes from two became evident. In 1958, maintenance was taken over by the state and construction began on the widening to four lanes as it became US 25 Bypass.[3] In 1966, a study began on more improvements to the original stretch of New Circle Road due to "extremely congested conditions." One of the improvements suggested as another bypass east of New Circle but was ruled out as being "too expensive and disruptive." As an interim solution, frontage roads were constructed along a few portions of New Circle, and longer turning lanes were constructed.

The remainder of the highway around Lexington was constructed to near-urban freeway standards with controlled access. Construction of interchanges at US 25 (Richmond Road)/US 421, KY 1974 (Tates Creek Road), US 27 (Nicholasville Road), US 68 (Harrodsburg Road), US 60 (Versailles Road), KY 1681 (Old Frankfort Pike), US 421 (Leestown Road), US 25 (Georgetown Road) and at KY 922 (Newtown Pike). The interchange with Alumni Drive was constructed in late 1984 at a cost of $2 million with the extension of what was then Mount Tabor Road southeastward towards Man o' War Boulevard.[6]

Winchester Road/US 60 interchange reconstruction[edit]

The interchange with US 60 (Winchester Road), built in 1961, was sorely out-of-date by the 1980s. Tight 15 mph (24 km/h) ramps and a narrow underpass with no acceleration or deceleration lanes made this a dangerous pseudo-cloverleaf interchange. Trucks, too tall for the substandard overpass height clearance, would frequently damage the bridge girders. Work started in the late 1990s to convert this outdated exit into a single-point urban interchange (SPUI). There are two left turn lanes on each ramp, and those are controlled by a single traffic light instead of two. Longer ramps for merging onto New Circle Road were added. In the fall of 2000, the new Winchester Road interchange opened to traffic at a cost of $8.1 million.[7]

Reconstructing New Circle Road[edit]

An early study, part of the "Urban County Government's Year 2000 Transportation Plan", stated that New Circle should be widened to six-lanes by the year 2000.[3] There was no available funding for the project that would cost $31 million.

In 1987, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government recommended a solution to the 6.1-mile (9.8 km) section of New Circle Road from Georgetown Road/US 25 to Richmond Road/US 25/US 421. New Circle Road in the northeastern quadrant of Lexington has high traffic volumes, numerous accidents and traffic delays as motorists face numerous commercial access points, congested intersections, poor traffic signal progressions, and a very low level of service made worse during peak hours. None of these recommendations by the urban government were implemented however.[8]

By 1997, a section of New Circle from Tates Creek Road to Nicholasville Road was averaging more than 60,000 vehicles per day, up from 17,000 30 years ago and an increase of 256%.[2] The section from Alumni Drive to Tates Creek Road saw a 155% increase, and the stretch from Harrodsburg Road to Versailles Road saw a 512% increase. A study was initiated at a cost of $2.6 million on widening a 13-mile (21 km) stretch from Georgetown Road to Richmond Road around the western and southern reaches of the city. The traffic volume is so large that "officials could justify widening the road to as many as five lanes in each direction."

In 1999, a study of the 14-mile (23 km) fully controlled access portion of New Circle Road was completed for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The study focused on an eight and ten-lane alternative. The eight-lane alternative was recommended at a cost of $218 million but no funds have been allocated for that portion of New Circle Road as of this date. That study did not include recommendations for New Circle Road between Georgetown Road/US 25 to Richmond Road/US 25/US 421 other than proposed improvements for the interchanges at Georgetown Road/US 25 and Richmond Road/US 25/US 421.

In August 1999, the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky College of Engineering completed Research Report KTC-99-55, "Conversion of New Circle Road to a limited Access Facility". The study compared the addition of one lane in each direction with the use of median U-turns and restricted left-turn strategies at selected intersections from Newtown Pike/KY 922 to Richmond Road/US 25/US 421. This was presented to the Lexington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and is considered to have been the stimulus for the development of the New Circle Road Northeast improvement study that began on December 1 of 1999.[9]

Four alternatives for the segment from Newtown Pike/KY 922 to Richmond Road/US 25/US 421 were presented and a fifth was introduced later after combining several key ideas that the residents voiced their approval of at several public meetings:[9]

Recent construction projects[edit]

A cable barrier system was installed along the median of the unsignalized portion of New Circle Road between the Richmond Road and Old Frankfort Pike Interchanges, which is a distance of just over eight miles (13 km). The $2.4 million project was started in the spring of 2007 and completed in the summer of 2007.

The first of many projects to improve the commercialized section of New Circle Road began in the summer of 2007. It included access management improvements, median construction, shoulder repair, turn lane extensions, and resurfacing from the intersection with Newtown Pike to the intersection with Industry Road. The $3.8 million project was completed in the fall of 2007.

In the fall of 2011, a diverging diamond interchange was added to the Harrodsburg Road exit to help alleviate traffic jams.

In November 2012, the Kentucky Department of Transportation announced the widening of New Circle Road from four to six lanes from just west of Georgetown Road to Versailles Road. Construction began in the fall of 2013 and was completed in 2016 at a cost of $80 million.[10]

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in Lexington, Fayette County.

2.2243.5792 US 68 (Harrodsburg Road) – Harrodsburg, LexingtonDiverging diamond interchange
4.6117.4215 US 60 (Versailles Road) to Bluegrass Parkway – Versailles, LexingtonSigned as exits 5A (east) and 5B (west)
6.33610.1976 KY 1681 (Old Frankfort Pike)
7.23911.6507 US 421 (Leestown Road) – Frankfort, Lexington
8.73114.0518 US 25 – Georgetown, LexingtonClockwise end of freeway
9.32415.0069 KY 922 (Newtown Pike) to I-64 / I-75 – LexingtonSigned as exits 9A (south) and 9B (north)
10.35616.666 KY 353 north (Russell Cave Road)At-grade intersection
10.66517.164 US 27 / US 68 (North Broadway) – Paris, CynthianaAt-grade intersection
11.33918.248 KY 57 north (Bryan Station Road) / Bryan AvenueAt-grade intersection
12.70420.44513 US 60 to I-75 / I-64 – Winchester, LexingtonSingle-point urban interchange
13.66921.998 KY 1927 east (Liberty Road)At-grade intersection
14.84323.88715 US 25 / US 421 – Richmond, LexingtonCounterclockwise end of freeway
16.12325.94716Alumni Drive
17.74828.56318 KY 1974 (Tates Creek Road) – Lexington
19.28331.03319 US 27 (Nicholasville Road) – Nicholasville, Lexington
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Division of Planning. "Official Milepoint Route Log Extract". Highway Information System. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Hall, Elizabeth Wade (February 25, 1997). "To Widen or Not: Some with Homes Nearby Worried". Herald-Leader. Lexington, KY.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b c Gaines, John (November 12, 1984). "A New Wave of Development Sweeps over New Circle Road". Herald-Leader. Lexington, KY.[page needed]
  4. ^ Cross Reference Directory, Greater Lexington. City Publishing. May 1981.[page needed]
  5. ^ Archived April 3, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Davis, Merlene (January 27, 1985). "Several Projects Helping To Ease Area's Traffic Woes". Herald-Leader. Lexington, KY.[page needed]
  7. ^ "Interchange Done Ahead of Schedule". Herald-Leader. Lexington, KY. June 19, 2000. p. B1.
  8. ^ "New Circle Road". Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. 2002. Archived from the original on 2004-04-03.
  9. ^ a b Conversion of New Circle Road to a limited Access Facility (Report). Kentucky Transportation Center, University of Kentucky, Federal Highway Administration. August 1998.
  10. ^ "New Circle To Be Widened From Georgetown to Versailles Roads". Lexington Herald-Leader. November 19, 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  11. ^ Division of Planning. "Highway Information System Official Milepoint Route Log Extract". Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Archived from the original on April 30, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2007.

External links[edit]