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New light at exit ramp should go green today

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It will be triggered by backups from I-64

By Lisa King

A heavily traveled area will receive this week some much-needed relief from congestion when the traffic light is activated at the recently opened exit ramp from Interstate 64 eastbound onto KY 55, state transportation officials say.

Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for the Transportation Cabinet, said the light is expected to be in use by today.

“They [engineers] are waiting for Kentucky Utilities to install a meter for tracking the electrical usage, and they also have to install the stop bars on the pavement,” she said Monday.

Clifford said the light is going to be activated by means of a camera, at least for now.

“We’re going to have a camera that will be watching the traffic coming up from the ramp, and change it [the signal],” she said.

The way it will work, she said, is the camera will monitor the flow of traffic on the ramp, and when it sees traffic starting to back up on the ramp, it will activate the signal.

Clifford said the device only will monitor traffic from the ramp and not KY 55.

 “This camera is only pointed at the ramp; it’s detecting for the ramp only,” she said. “This is just temporary until we can get the other lanes built and can get the sensors in for all the different legs of the intersection.”

The need for a traffic light came to the attention of state officials in mid-June after the new KY 55 overpass at the Interstate 64 interchange opened as part of the interstate widening project.

Motorists quickly began to complain of a safety issue – that people using the eastbound exit ramp couldn’t make an immediate turn onto KY 55, causing a traffic backup during peak times onto I-64. The single ramp replaced dedicated northbound and southbound exit ramps, meaning that all exiting traffic now shares one ramp and one stop sign at KY 55.

State Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) and Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) got involved and began to confer with state transportation officials, including Clifford and project engineers.

By the first of July, officials had given the green light to install the signal.

Though he expressed satisfaction that state officials had acted so quickly in the interest of public safety, Hornback said that people should keep in mind that the method of activation would not be as sophisticated as when the entire project is completed.

“It’s not going to be perfect,” he said. “But when the road gets done, they can fix that.”

Clifford emphasized that aspect also.

“It will eventually have sensors in the pavement, but because we still have so much other work out there to do, constructing the other lanes on [KY] fifty-five and finishing the ramps, we can’t go ahead and put them [sensors] in right now,” she said.

Hornback said he had been getting some questions from the public about when the lights were going to be activated, “since they’ve been hanging there for a month.”

“But I haven’t had any major complaints; I think people have been accustomed to the wait,” he said.

“I’m just glad we’re getting it done,” he said.

Still to be installed at that intersection are north and southbound lanes, ramps, and also a turning lane for motorists traveling south on KY 55, seeking to turn left onto eastbound I-64.

The construction at the interchange is part of the $37.5 million widening project that will address not only that interchange but also the continued widening of I-64 to six lanes from where previous work ends just east of Simpsonville to Mile Marker 32.8. The remodeling includes lengthening all the entrance and exit ramps in addition to widening the overpass.

Louisville Paving Company was awarded the contract in 2012 for this project in the amount of $37.5 million. The project is scheduled to be completed by April 30, 2014.

Clifford said the project is running on schedule.