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New traffic lights signal roadwork drawing near

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Buck Creek Road lights to activate this week

By Lisa King

Three new traffic signals should now be in operation at three key spots along Buck Creek Road in the Simpsonville area.

Traffic engineers say the lights could be completely operational now, but they may still be in flashing mode.

The lights are the culmination of the Buck Creek Road construction project, which is nearly complete.

The three new traffic signals were built as part of interchange improvements at Interstate 64 and the Buck Creek Road (KY 1848) interchange in Simpsonville. Signals have been installed at the exit ramps from both eastbound and westbound I-64, and are intended to improve traffic flow for vehicles entering and exiting the interstate at Exit 28.

The other signal has been installed at the intersection of Buck Creek Road and Veechdale Road (KY 1399) near the Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.

Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said the KYTC staff was expected to test the signals and adjust the timing early this week.

“The signals will be placed on flash for a couple of days to make motorists aware of the new traffic conditions,” she said. “All three traffic signals should be changed from flash to normal operation by the end of the week.”

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Traffic Engineer Chris Slone said crews planned to test the lights Tuesday morning and should have them on flash by afternoon.

The day they turn over to full operation will depend on the weather, Clifford said.

That shouldn’t cause a delay, since most forecasters have said storms will have moved out of the area by this time and not expected to return until Friday.

Clifford said crews have only a few things left to in the Buck Creek Road area.

“The construction out there is pretty much complete and we’re going to turn the signals on,” she said. “They’ve got to put some pavement markings in, it’ll all be done well before the outlet shops open; we won’t have lanes closed or anything. They’ve just got some minor things left to do, some pavement markings, there’s a couple of signs, but that’s really it.”

The improvements to the area were configured after problems surfaced in September with newly finished construction; the new segment of Veechdale Road contained a sharp, narrow bend on the southwest end. That curve, just northeast of the railroad crossing on Veechdale Road – constructed as part of a half-mile or so of new road that meanders from Buck Creek Road through the outlet mall – was too sharp to allow larger vehicles to stay in the same lane and limited advancing views of the railroad crossing.

 

I-64 construction

Clifford said that though completion dates are running neck and neck, people should keep in mind that the Buck Creek Road construction project is not part of the more extensive interstate widening project that has been ongoing for the past five years, including design phases.

“The work on 1848 is a separate project from the widening on I-64,” she said. “The work on 1848 and on the ramps at exit 28 in Simpsonville, that was all to done before the outlet mall opens.”

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is scheduled to open at the end of July.

Clifford said the I-64 widening project is on schedule for its August completion date.

“As far as the paving on the interstate, that project picks up basically right when you get on the interstate in Simpsonville and going east,” she said. “That project is still scheduled to be done mid-August. They’re doing some paving now in the evenings so they’re working on that. The widening project, last week, they’ve been moving that barrier wall they’ve had up on some of the lanes so they can start doing the paving, there’s some base course already out there, but then there’ll be some intermediate. Then the final striping, they’re starting to work on all of that, but right now, we’re still looking at mid-august for that to be complete.”

The widening construction that’s wrapping up is between Exit 28 in Simpsonville and Exit 32.

The project was to have been completed this spring, but was pushed back to August because of a request from the state from the contractor for additional cement stabilization due to a poor existing subgrade underneath the roadway.

The extra work costs an additional $778,864, bringing the project total to $38.2 million but still under the $40 million originally budgeted for the project.

The roughly 4.5-mile project, awarded to Louisville Paving in 2012, not only widens I-64 to six lanes, but has also addressed the KY 55 interchange, extending to mile marker 32.8.

The remodeling included lengthening all the entrance and exit ramps and widening the overpass, including the dangerous on-ramp at Exit 32 from KY 55, which was the site of two fatal accidents and several near misses in recent years.

Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden said he is glad the new traffic lights will be up and running before the outlet mall opens.

“It’s good they’re going in a couple of weeks before the mall opens so the local people can get used to the traffic pattern,” he said. “I think they [citizens] realize that’s the only way they’re going to be able to handle the traffic issue out there, we’re just going to have to have traffic control with lights. I haven’t heard anything real negative about it. People that normally just breeze right through there, it’s going to take them a minute or two now to sit through a light, so it’s going to put another couple of minutes on peoples’ travel coming through there.”

Clifford said she wants people to remember that even though the Buck Creek Road construction is wrapping up and the I-64 project is nearing completion, drivers still need to be vigilant and use caution.

“There is equipment moving in and out of the area, so people do need to slow down and be aware of that,” she said. “A lot of times, people see the new pavement coming in and the barrier wall coming out and they think all the work is completed and they may get complacent, so we want them to be aware it’s still an active work zone.”