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Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff
3 min read
Exploring ways to slow down motorists in Midway
Speeding isn’t any worse in Midway than other cities in America, according to Mayor Grayson Vandegrift. However, he said he probably receives more complaints about speeding than any other issue.
He said the number of motorists driving faster than posted speed limits likely escalated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when many smaller police departments backed off on traffic stops to limit their officers’ potential exposure to the coronavirus, he explained.
“Now,” said Vandegrift, “we understand a little more about the virus and there are things we can do to protect our officers and still be able to pull people over.”
Versailles Police Chief Mike Murray said his department has lifted restrictions in response to the pandemic and returned to “full steam on traffic enforcement.” Officers are using good judgment and are now required to wear masks if they are unable to keep a safe social distance during traffic stops, he said.
Prior to the restrictions being lifted, Murray said, “We didn’t really want to put the word out there that we’re not stopping people, because once you do that then people are going to take advantage of it.” Officers always made traffic stops if a motorist showed a disregard for the safety of others, he added.
Speeding has been a longtime frustration for many residents of Midway, Vandegrift said. “So we are trying to crack down on it – trying to find new approaches,” he said, while also knowing ongoing methods have been successful to varying degrees.
A portable digital radar sign that displays a motorist’s speed gets moved from street to street, Vandegrift said. It works to slow motorists, but only while it’s at a location, he added.
“We do focus more on busier streets,” Vandegrift said.
While motorists are more likely to see the radar sign on residential streets with more pedestrian traffic, the sign also makes its way to neighborhood streets with only a handful of homes, he explained.
Adding center stripes and edge lines on the pavement of a street can change driving behaviors, according to Vandegrift. He said painting double center and edge lines on East Stephens Street almost a year ago “has slowed down traffic some.” So while he still gets complaints about speeders there, he said center and edge lines, which reduce speeds by making a road appear narrower, have made a difference.
The state added edge lines to U.S. 62 (Midway Road) a couple of years ago and that’s also helped reduce speeds, Vandegrift said. “There’s more to do, and we’ve got more plans,” he added.
“Bulb-outs,” also known as curb extensions, offer another option to slow motorists. Commonly used in large cities at busy intersections, Vandegrift said a bulb-out is an option being explored at the corner of Winter and Bruen streets because of the many pedestrians who walk to and from the Midway Post Office.
Another option being explored are speed tables, Vandegrift said. Designed to lower speeds, the traffic calming device is different than speed bumps, which have caused controversy in the past, he said.
He said speed tables “are very gentle” if motorists drive over them at the posted speed limit. “So it just kind of encourages drivers to slow down,” he said.
However, Vandegrift acknowledged there are challenges with adding speed tables because emergency vehicles and school buses must use streets. “We also worry about snow removal,” he said. “So there’s lots of unanswered questions about that.
“That’s why it’s stage four for us. It’s the most complicated one. We want to see if other things work before we tackle it. But I’m becoming more and more convinced that speed tables may have to be deployed at some point.”
Vandegrift praised the Versailles Police Department for being very cooperative with the City of Midway in terms of responding to problem areas. “They’ve been great about Winter Street,” he said.
“But police officers can’t be everywhere at one time. They can’t be on every road,” he added.
Murray cited Stephens and Winter streets as well as the Leestown Road (Ky. 421)-Georgetown Road (Ky. 341) intersection, near the I-64 interchange, as traffic problem areas in and around Midway.
Other problem areas in Woodford County and Versailles are Lawerenceburg Road (also known as Tyrone Pike), U.S. 60 East at the Marsailles Road intersection, Lexington Road at Pisgah Pike/Shannon Run Road and U.S. 60 West between Versailles and Frankfort, Murray said.