By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
I was running a little behind getting newspapers to the Grayson post office last Wednesday morning. It was frustrating. I don’t like running late. (Though I usually am despite my best efforts.) But, if you believe in such things, I may have had a guardian angel looking out for me when a Rowan County school bus held me up near Haldeman earlier that morning.
I got into Grayson several minutes behind when I normally do, and just in time to see an ambulance responding to an accident with police officers already on scene. Luckily, according to the limited information available from the Kentucky State Police collision data page, there were no serious injuries or fatalities in this accident or any of the other 17 documented collisions to occur along this stretch of roadway since September.
Anyone who has spent any time in Grayson can probably already guess that the roadway in question is Carol Malone Boulevard. The crash I observed last week was there where the majority of these crashes tend to occur – the gridlocked area near the intersection with the interstate.
With travelers and truck drivers coming off I-64, often excessively fast, and local traffic trying to purchase their gas and coffee on their way to work from one of the service stations on either side of the street, it’s a heavily traverse area. It’s also an incredibly dangerous area, and one where it can be nearly impossible to safely pull into traffic or cross the street.
In September alone, according to data pulled from crashinformationky.org, there were 13 collisions along the route, three of them involving a “commercial vehicle.”
Though the information there is limited, and requires you to search with very specific data filters to find anything, we do know that none of the crashes in September or so far this month (another four) included any reported fatalities or injuries.
We also know that they are fairly regularly spread throughout the week – this isn’t just kids out on a weekend being reckless – and though the time of day is not listed in the Kentucky State Police database, anecdotally we know that most of these accidents occur during the morning or afternoon “rush hour” periods.
It’s not hard to see why. If you pull into the Speedway, Love’s, Racer’s Mart, or any other gas-station along the route, and you need to turn left and cross traffic to get back on the road, you’ll find yourself waiting for a while.
This isn’t a result of the road-widening construction along Carol Malone either. Traffic here has always been heavy and unregulated. There’s a light on the overpass, sure. But there isn’t another light along Carol Malone until you get down to College, across from the antique store and the entrance to the bowling alley.
In the mornings and afternoons there is a steady stream of traffic along that route, and they generally do not seem in the mood to slow down or stop to accommodate those attempting to re-enter the roadway. When you add to that the number of tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles exiting for gas and refreshments, it makes it a particularly dangerous stretch of roadway, as last month’s figures point out.
The longest stretch of time without an accident in September was seven days, between accidents on September 2 and September 9. After that there was an accident every day to four days, with accidents on September 10, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, and 28, and multiple accidents on September 2 and 24.
October has had a longer stretch without accidents so far, with ten days between accidents on October 4 and another on October 14. But that first day of October accidents included two separate collisions. Then there was the October 19 accident I came across.
These numbers, of course, don’t include any minor dings and fender benders where folks may have exchanged insurance information and went about their way without involving police.
There are discussions ongoing with the state now about a Grayson bypass. Though the details are yet to be worked out, there is a possibility this could alleviate some of the traffic flow through downtown in the mornings – but there are still going to be people needing gasoline. There are still going to be people stopping for breakfast and a cup of coffee. And there will still be semi-trucks and other commercial traffic exiting I-64 for the same reasons. This traffic is still going to make it difficult at times to exit onto Carol Malone between the lights on the overpass and at College Street, with no real lull in the flow.
Finishing the widening project on the street is going to be fantastic. A bypass might be nice for some commuters (though we need to ask at what cost to downtown business). But I’m not convinced these will solve the problem with this stretch of Carol Malone.
Another traffic light, to stop northbound traffic long enough for vehicles to leave parking lots, just might though. If the state will consider it.
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