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We are extremely pleased to learn that so much momentum is gathering to improve the deadly ramp onto Interstate 64 eastbound at Exit 32.
We were overjoyed to see state Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville), current and former state Sen. Paul Hornback and Gary Tapp and Magistrate Tony Carriss and other elected leaders press their influential feet squarely on the accelerator pedal that has powered the state forward toward an immediate remedy to a dangerous, longstanding problem.
When we first introduced to you in 2009 that this brief acceleration lane that is both narrow and filled with harrow needed to be repaired, we were as skeptical as the engineers who first told Mr. Montell et al – and you – that this wasn’t the time or the best way to spend money on the many needs of I-64.
That two people died at that spot in 2010 – whether or not you can blame what engineers admit is a lane far short of standard for an accelerating vehicle and its driver – certainly is a sad commentary on the elements required to move the needle on the logic-ometer.
But die they did, and the conversation suddenly was elevated from rhetorical to real.
With the encouragement of those men and state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, engineers have returned to the scene and begun to calculate and innovate a plan for remediation.
They cling to their issues of timing and expense, which is understandable, but they are determined to create another bypass, one that will circumvent the glossy concept of tomorrow in favor of a clear, straight route for today.
State highway officials already have had on their drawing boards a grand and expensive plan to tie the widening project that soon will end at Simpsonville with the strange one that sits like an island near Waddy.
We don’t disagree that those megamillions need to be spent as soon as possible – those flipping, crashing and dying around Mile Marker 38 are testament to problems east of Shelbyville – but the grand scheme need not detour repairs for Exit 32, either.
Some estimates have said the cost would be less than a $1 million to find a way to add more width and length to those 295 feet of terror.
Engineers also want to conjure a solution to build this repair into their grand design for what the interchange might look like when their widening project is completed. We agree that this makes sense, because too often roads are built and/or adjusted for now and not for what truly is needed for the mortgaged future.
But we can’t let design or pocket change slow down the momentum built here.
Perhaps the decision-makers need to treat this process as if they were drivers on this very ramp:
They approach the problem zone and realize they now have split seconds to make a choice that could save their lives – or, in their case, the lives of thousands who are there every day – with traffic rushing on, no room to maneuver and the pavement turning into shoulder, hard by the guard rail.
That sort of adrenaline might be the final piece of fuel required to push the starter button on the workflow necessary to make these important improvements.
If not, we suggest Mr. Montell, Mr. Hornback and Mr. Carriss put all those engineers in a van during the morning rush and let them experience the problem first hand.
That should do it.