September 24, 2012

My Point Is...County roads, take me home...safely

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — My perch in the western section of the county inevitably sends me directly through the construction zones approaching downtown London — and North Laurel Middle School — every day.

Why construction on a roadway that was just closed down last year has to occur again is a question that haunts those who have no other choice than to sit and wait while traffic is stalled every day. While it is more than apparent the roadways need to be resurfaced occasionally, the timing of this construction has to fall in the minus zero category.

For those not familiar with the daily delays, the orange and white barrels were set up the week before school began this year. The actual removal of the concrete roadway began the second day of school and two “fender benders” that morning left traffic stalled from the intersection of U.S. 25 and Ky. 80 West (Russell Dyche Memorial Highway and Hal Rogers Parkway) for over half an hour.

I was one of those ‘fortunate’ enough to be held up in the traffic troubles. I timed my progress as taking 20 minutes to travel from Shiloh’s to the Kentucky State Police Post, with the last leg of my morning jaunt to North Laurel Middle School within 10 minutes, give or take the traffic backup at the school itself.

The only good part of the morning was that the buses coming from the same direction were also held up and ran as late as I did that day.

The dilemma caused some thinking about alternative routes. A northward path would take me along Glenview Road onto U.S. 25, which would put me back in the midst of the intersection backup. Taking another route would leave me exiting onto the parkway at the new Ky. 30, but still tackling the traffic lined up from North Laurel High School.

A less favorable route that also led me back through town is County Farm Road, which runs directly to 16th Street and into town. An experimental journey along that route took us into town, onto Hill Street and back onto the parkway at the intersection of Tobacco Road.

In the evenings, County Farm Road is an option that I take frequently to avoid the backup of traffic in town. While the trip along 16th Street is scenic and pleasant, the winding, hilly, narrow roads that lie ahead are a challenge to both nerves and driving skills. The path down a steep hilly road may provide quicker access home but it also offers two-way traffic that could send a less attentive driver over a steep bluff. While the shoulders of the roadway may offer some graveled areas, many of those have no barriers to prevent a haphazard driver from an unplanned decline into a ravine or slamming into a thick tree line.

Of course, the more rural area roadways fail to have divider lines and, for some reason, people who travel these roadways believe they must drive in the middle of the road.

Of course, the western section of the county is not the sole area where these paved country roads present a challenge. I’ve traveled along many roadways in various sections where I ponder if the minimum width is met. Painting a dividing line is impossible, I’ve been told, because the road isn’t wide enough to actually designate a specific line.

The problem is, if the ‘road(s) less traveled’ aren’t wide enough to paint a dividing line, how are they legally considered a road. Shouldn’t such areas be determined as a lane, thus giving travelers an indication that they should proceed carefully?

With the World Chicken Festival approaching this week and construction continuing on one of the major roadways, the back roads may well become a heavily traveled route for those of us in the western section of the county.

If that is your option, please remember to try and stay on your side of the narrow roadways and drive a little slower, because that approaching vehicle could well be me.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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