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What we think: I-64 ramp’s survival deserves thanks

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In the very near future, this dangerously short strip of asphalt will receive a new and presumably safer design as part of the new state roads budget.

Shelby County Magistrate Tony Carriss calls the eastbound merge lane from KY 55 onto Interstate 64 “the most dangerous transportation issue in our county.”

And now, in the very near future, this dangerously short strip of asphalt will receive a new and presumably safer design as part of the new state roads budget.

We had hoped this was coming, that the General Assembly would follow through on the hard work by state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville), state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) and retired state Sen. Gary Tapp before them.

They all worked diligently – with help from Mr. Carriss and others – to move this problem to the forefront of the needs list in Shelby County, to persuade transportation officials of its vital importance and then to ensure the project was able to navigate safely the equally treacherous path of politically charged decision-making that is the state roads budget.

We have seen – and paid handsomely for – the sideshow that was the standoff between Gov. Steve Beshear and state Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville) about the road budget at the end of regular and extended legislative sessions.

There was gamesmanship, to be sure, and Shelby Countians lost a substantial amount of key funding for the continued expansion of I-64 between Simpsonville and Shelbyville and other projects.

But we didn’t lose the ramp – which Mr. Hornback said was the principle focus – and now the families of those who have died there and many of us who have feared for our lives on a daily basis there can look forward to a safer merge into the sometimes manic traffic flow.

That this needed to be done has been obvious for decades, and we’re glad that the key players in this little drama ultimately were committed to that need.

Mr. Montell and Mr. Hornback certainly fought hard in those difficult final hours of wrangling, and state highway engineers have been amenable to adjust their planning and development of the new merge lane.

This new ramp was to have been reconstructed as part of the I-64 widening project, but with funds for that shifted to the crowded and also dangerous I-65 corridor, the ramp at Exit 32 will be remodeled independently, an option that officials said originally that they would not accept.

This is one of those seemingly rare times in government when logic has prevailed.

Everyone looked at the situation and arrived at the same conclusion, albeit from different angles and perspectives.

That 295 feet of acceleration lane needs a rapid remedy.

We can’t bring back the lives of those who died at that deadly intersection. We can’t calm fears that will emerge there every day this week.

But, hopefully, before another life is lost, before more tragedy, we can remedy this transportation problem.

Mr. Carriss is right. Shelby Countians who use this exit can look forward to having a much safer route forthcoming.

Thank you to all who made that happen.