We said it was a “no-brainer” back in April after the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet presented its plans for paving and implementing a new traffic pattern on East Main Street at a Franklin County Fiscal Court meeting. In August — despite taking some flak from readers who disagreed — we reiterated our stance in favor of converting a portion of one of the city’s main arteries from four to three lanes, adding a center turning lane and bracketing the road with bike lanes on each side.
Now that the majority of the project, which runs from the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard intersection to Spaghetti Junction, is complete and East Main is as smooth as butter, we restate our belief that the new traffic pattern was the right decision.
According to KYTC research engineer Adam Kirk, who helped conduct a feasibility study on the road, the majority of the traffic accidents on East Main during a five-year period were rear-end collisions that occurred at the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or Schenkel Lane intersections. With an average of 15,000-17,000 vehicles traveling the road each day, the reconfiguration is expected to decrease the number of wrecks per year by 50% or more, the state asserts.
“The goal of this project is to improve safety on this section of U.S. 60,” said Matt Bullock, District 5 Department of Highways chief district engineer. “Changing the traffic pattern to create a center turn lane will help reduce the potential for rear-end collisions and sideswipes when vehicles are stopped to make left turns. The addition of bike lanes allows the existing roadway to safely serve non-motorized traffic.”
Sure, we had to put up with a few months of grooved pavement, long lines of traffic, headaches and construction cones, yet we continue to believe that switching up the traffic pattern allows for better flow in both directions. It will take some getting used to, but in the long run it was the right call to make.