The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is urging people to watch where they place yard signs – be they political in nature, or otherwise. The signs can only be placed on private property and not public right-of-ways.
District 4 spokesman Chris Jessie says they’re issuing the reminder as we head toward spring – a time when many residents hold yard sales or put out a sign supporting a political candidate involved in a primary.
“Sometimes I don’t think people really give thought to the fact that when they put an illegal sign out there, it can create a road hazard by blocking sight distance or maybe distracting drivers, and particularly at intersections,” said Jessie.
He says transportation cabinet crews have the authority to remove any sign placed in a public right-of-way. Confiscated signs will be held at the nearest county transportation center for 30 days.
This week’s snowfall and ice across parts of Kentucky are taking a toll on the Transportation Cabinet’s salt supply. Spokesman Chris Jessie says District 4 – which includes Hardin, Hart, Larue and eight other surrounding counties, has had to order reinforcements and borrow from the reserve stock in Louisville.
“We’re keeping close watch on the forecast through this upcoming week,” said Jessie. “So while we have salt on hand in our District 4 counties, if we continue to get these rounds of snow and ice as we’ve had over the past week, our situation will become more critical.”
He says crews are currently using salt “wisely”, but if supplies continue to diminish they may have to resort to conservation efforts. He says that means treating only main routes and those roadways with the highest volume of traffic.
“We want to be sure motorists understand this potential conservation method before we have to implement it,” said Jessie.
As of last week, the Transportation Cabinet said that crews had spread more than 220,000 tons of salt across the state this winter.
Transportation officials say 635 people died on Kentucky roadways last year, but that number is dramatically down from the year before. Not since 1949 – some 64 years ago – have Kentucky roads been so safe. It’s a drastic turnaround from 2012 when the state saw nearly 750 deaths on the roads.
Kentucky’s Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says he’s encouraged by the reduction in fatalities but still “firmly believes that one fatality is too many”.
Hancock says troopers will continue to focus on encouraging seat belt use and reducing drunk driving, the two leading causes of traffic fatalities. In Tennessee, meantime, roadway fatalities fell by more than two percent last year.
A committee of Kentucky and Indiana officials has approved toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project after years of research and debate.
The bi-state tolling body unanimously approved toll rates Wednesday of one to twelve dollars, depending on vehicle size and mode of crossing.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says despite some strong opposition to tolling, they’re necessary to pay for the new End East and downtown bridges and reworking of Spaghetti Junction.
“This is where we wound up after months and months of intense studies so we’re comfortable that it’s certainly not going to be palatable to everyone but it’s an environment in which we can be successful," said Hancock.
Two regional business owners addressed the tolling body Wednesday. Both requested the states consider a discount for large trucks that will bear the highest costs.
But Hancock says the set rates are comparable to national averages.
After delaying action on toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project last week, the bi-state committee in charge of setting rates will meet Wednesday to finish the job.
It was a surprise to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock last week, when Indiana officials said they weren’t ready to approve tolls.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the delay shouldn’t be considered opposition to the suggested tolls rates, ranging from one to twelve dollars. He said it was just a matter of getting paperwork together.
Hancock was concerned though, and said Kentucky needs to set toll rates to find investors for its portion of the project’s cost.
“As interest rates go up obviously over a 35 year term of a financing deal that amounts to serious money, whether that’s millions I’m quite sure probably is," said Hancock.
State Rep. Sannie Overly has filed a bill that will allow the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to explore public-private partnerships to help construction projects with big price tags.
The bill doesn't specifically name any projects, but Kentucky currently has multiple instances where the bill could help work start, namely the Brent Spence Bridge in Northern Kentucky and Interstate 69 in western Kentucky.
Overly, a Paris Democrat, said the goal is to help the state have one more avenue to help fund its infrastructure projects.
"This bill is not designed for any one particular project, it is really nothing more than an additional tool in the toolbox of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet," she said.
Kentucky transportation officials say a team headed by Chicago firm Walsh Construction Co. is the apparent winner of bidding to build a new bridge over the Ohio River between downtown Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind. The Transportation Cabinet said the proposals were scored Thursday in Frankfort.
Gov. Steve Beshear has signed an executive order directing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to expedite the transportation of emergency supplies to victims of Superstorm Sandy. The order directs the cabinet to waive special registration and permit requirements for vehicles carrying relief supplies such as food, water and medicine.
Kentucky's top transportation official has told the National Transportation Safety Board that navigation lights on bridges are working properly and that workers who inspect and maintain the lights are properly trained.