Count us among those who are grateful that Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd stepped in and ordered a temporary injunction for an encroachment permit that would allow only right turns between Sonny’s BBQ and the newly constructed RaceTrac travel center on Versailles Road near Duncan Road.
The judge intervened in a civil lawsuit on Jan. 6 in which Frankfort Shell Food Mart LLC, a neighboring gas station, is the plaintiff and RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. is the defendant.
RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. obtained the right in/right out encroachment permit from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and attorneys for the company contend the entrance/exit meets minimum requirements and was approved and signed off by KYTC’s chief district engineer.
The developer originally sought a permit for a full-access entrance/exit. However, KYTC would only approve one that restricted left turns in and out of the entrance/exit.
Frankfort Shell Food Mart LLC’s expert testimony was given by Jihad Hallany, who presented a “worst case factual scenario.” He factored in the speed limit on that stretch of road; minimum stopping distance at those speeds; the likely acceleration of vehicles on U.S. 60 and cars coming off the Interstate 64 off ramp to Duncan Road; the addition of new “decision points” with the right in/right out; frequency of travel on U.S. 60; and accidents that have occurred on the road.
KYTC District Engineer Matthew Bullock, who issued the encroachment permit and provided expert testimony for RaceTrac based on the transportation cabinet’s Highway Design Guidance Manual, said he didn’t believe that “queuing issues” would create a safety hazard. He also testified that the manual is only for guidance not mandatory and that the encroachment permit falls in a “gray area,” therefore he exercised his best judgment.
In weighing the evidence, Shepherd found safety concerns “were apparent” to KYTC engineers and “concessions were made at the request of RaceTrac.” He also noted that it is the court’s duty to weigh the issue of physical harm/injury versus the potential economic impact a delayed opening would have on RaceTrac.
“To the court, the safety of the citizens of Frankfort and the Commonwealth of Kentucky take precedence over the economic impact a delay may cause,” the judge wrote.
We agree and believe that the encroachment permit never should have been granted in the first place. The safety of motorists far outweighs any economic gain. It is our hope that the court continues to err on the side of caution before someone is hurt or killed on that stretch of road.