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Gov. Steve Beshear has placed the state transportation cabinet in the fast lane to save lives in Shelby County, and we could not be more grateful.
His endorsement Monday of plans to move ahead with modifications for the abbreviated and lethal acceleration lane from KY 55 onto Interstate 64 eastbound in Shelby County is not to be underestimated in making these 300 feet of asphalt safer for all who encounter it.
We have made repairing this ramp a top community priority since introducing in 2009 and 2010 that there was insufficient length and site lines for vehicles safely to merge into the traffic flow on I-64.
We just wish that two people didn’t have to die there in 2010 for critical attention to be focused on the problem.
But that focus – from state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville), retired state Sen. Gary Tapp, his successor, Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville), and Shelby County Magistrate Tony Carriss, to name a few – is truly what persuaded transportation officials to disrupt their years-long timeline for I-64 and draw up a new remedy.
We commend the efforts of Mr. Montell, Mr. Tapp, Mr. Hornback and Mr. Carriss and believe them to be the ultimate examples of public service: to understand a community problem and see its solution through in a timely manner.
In the always pitched discussion about the state’s expenses, roads and related infrastructure often find themselves in the boiling reduction of pork-barrel politics and assigned as bacon along side the eggs that must be spent on our most important public costs.
Sadly, the verbal jostling that ensues among those of influence often causes best interests to be shoved aside based on “the plan” or “other priorities.”
Gladly, that didn’t happen this time.
We thank state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock and Engineer Matt Bullock for seeing this dilemma as it is and, under the encouragement of the aforementioned public officials, agreeing to draw up the plans required to repair it before it’s too late for another person who gets to the end of that lane and can’t find safe passage among surrounding vehicles.
The cost, too, is not insignificant, and that’s money that any county would like to have to fund road improvements, and we have no doubt that some of our future projects – the Mount Eden Road and Buck Creek Road widening projects, to name two – could see delays because of this new plan.
And although we endorse these two concepts and their value, we believe those two strips of inconvenient traffic clogs are far more palatable than seeing a van filled with a family careening violently off other vehicles and into a median until one person’s life is lost and others’ very nearly are.
We saw that in 2010, and we believe that only the grace of God saved that merge area from becoming a multi-mortality milieu.
We can’t wait for the day when all our interstate merge ramps can grow from 1960s designs into the traffic flows and needs of decades to come.
We can’t wait to come to the end of that particular ramp at Exit 32 and don’t feel lump-in-throat pressure of having to slam on our brakes and drive over the bumpy shoulder against a snug guard rail to find our spot in the traffic flow.
Yes, we have seen this as a dramatic problem that required dramatic solutions.
Thankfully, those we choose to represent us have agreed.
Thank you, Gov. Beshear, for agreeing with those from Shelby County and your top transportation minds.
Thank you for removing one more peril from every driver who wants to try to drive in your direction.