Simpsonville safety concerns draw review

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Buck Creek widening has caused issues for motorists

By Lisa King

Transportation officials have taken steps to improve road conditions to make driving safer for motorists after receiving a complaint from a resident about the construction zone on Buck Creek Road at the Interstate 64 interchange in Simpsonville.

Responding to concerns expressed in a letter from Jamie Jarboe of Simpsonville, Andrea Clifford, public information officer for the Transportation Cabinet, wrote to Jarboe on Monday that some changes would be made, including relocating a speed limit sign and speaking to the contractor about his crews driving more carefully in the construction area.

Jarboe told The Sentinel-News that several of her neighbors have written to Clifford as well.

“My husband was almost hit by a Louisville Paving truck on Tuesday that was pulling out between two pylons,” she said. “The only thing the driver said to Doug [Butler, her husband] was, ‘I didn’t hit you.’  No apology for the near miss.”

The construction is busy in that area with the widening of Buck Creek Road and the development of the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville, and Jarboe said construction crews were not using the proper flagging equipment and that they were driving carelessly, speeding and not using turn signals and turning around at the entrance to Hunters Pointe, a development just south of I-64.

“On July 17 at about 12:30, a white KY DOT  truck turned around at the Hunters Pointe entrance and backed up onto Buck Creek to drive back to the construction site,” she said. “This caused me to slow down to avoid hitting him.”

Clifford said she talked with the project engineer who reviewed the construction zone on Friday.

“He discussed the safety concerns with our staff and our contractor including having the appropriate flagging equipment, driving at slower speeds and using turn signals,” Clifford said. “As a result of this review, we are also going to move the 35 mph speed limit signs further south on KY 1848 so motorists will slow down well in advance of the work zone.”

Clifford said that motorists’ speeding is a matter for police to handle.

“If motorists would slow to this posted work zone speed of thirty-five miles per hour, they would be able to safely navigate the construction area,” she said. “Enforcement of the speed limit is the responsibility of local law enforcement.”

Simpsonville Police Chief Chip Minnis  said he and his staff do patrol the construction area.

“I’m out there everyday in the morning when everybody’s going off to work, and I’m out there in the late afternoons, myself personally, driving through the construction site, checking to see how traffic is flowing, if there are any backups on ramps or things of that nature,” Minnis said.

“[Shelby County Emergency Management Director] Paul Whitman and myself had gone out there to look at some things and asked them to change a few things to make it a little more driver-friendly, and they did, just where the lanes were not lining up straight, at the intersections of the on and off ramps, the lanes kind of made a little ‘s’ curve. So they have put down new lines and gave the trucks more room to turn, that was when they first started that. Now, everybody’s gotten used to that. But you still have those that want to blast down through there. When we’re out there monitoring, they [drivers] see us and they slow down. They’re like children, they’ll get away with what they can.”

Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden wrote in a letter to Jarboe that he was not aware of those kind of problems in the construction zone, but plans to check it out.

“I have discussed with our fire chief and police chief, and they informed me that since construction started we have not had one accident within the construction area,” he said in a letter.

“Our police will continue to monitor the area and I think your letter to Ms. Clifford will get more response since 1848 is a state road.

“I have observed myself a lot of people within the construction area in to big a hurry and making poor choices even when the construction workers are making every effort to direct traffic around construction.

“I will drive out to the site today [Friday] or possibly Monday [this past] to meet with the supervisor to share your concerns.”

Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton said that Eden was working to make the site as safe as possible.

“We have not had any fire or police runs out there, and we are watching it closely, and the state is, too,” he said.