KYTC installs safety measure at busy intersection

RACHEL KELLER COLLINS/The Tribune-Courier

New delineators and a "No turn from shoulder" sign were installed last Wednesday at the intersection where US 641 meets Hwy. 58 in Benton. According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the measure was in response to reports from local law enforcement officers of motorists using the shoulder as a turning lane, which resulted in several crashes.

Many Marshall Countians were taking to social media last week to praise the latest safety measure installed Wednesday by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet designed to reduce the number of collisions at a busy intersection through which approximately 10,000 vehicles pass on an average day.

Motorists headed northbound on US 641 toward the parkway are now barred from entering the shoulder to turn right headed eastbound toward downtown Benton. Several delineators and a "No turn from shoulder" sign were installed to prevent the dangerous practice.

KYTC Public Information Officer Keith Todd said the cabinet received reports from local law enforcement that motorists were using the shoulder as a turning lane, which resulted in several crashes at that location.

"From time to time we review police crash reports looking for potential spots where we can make adjustments that will improve safety, but area police agencies, particularly individual officers can sometimes spot an issue before it shows up in the stats," he explained. "This happened to be something our police agency partners picked up on the may not have show up in police crash report stats or in a regular traffic study."

Todd said when school is in session, the cabinet also receives helpful information from school bus drivers who are also mindful of safety.

The installation at the US 641/Hwy 58 intersection didn't require a study, Todd said, just a review of the standards and discussions with the traffic/sign crews to develop a plan of action that met guidelines.

"Luckily, this involved a fix that was fairly straightforward and simple," he added. "This is part of our overall goal to reduce crashes and improve safety utilizing our current resources."

Todd said there are no current plans to place delineators on the shoulder of the southbound US 641 side of the intersection. He said the reports from their law enforcement partners have not indicated an issue on that side but if that changes, KYTC will take appropriate action.

"Sometimes people just do stuff they ought not to do and we don't put stuff out like that unless we absolutely have to because you're looking at quite a bit of money between equipment and labor," he said. "It's never a good idea to pass someone on the right who's stopped because you can't assume the people in front of you that are in the proper lane are going straight. What was happening is people were using it as a slip lane and then the people in the proper lane turned right and hit them."

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