Thursday, August 6, 2015

U.S. 41 North strip traffic study progressing

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is progressing on a study of traffic flow along the U.S. 41 North Strip at Henderson.

The study, aimed at relieving congestion and improving safety along the U.S. 41 Corridor between the U.S. 60 cloverleaf and the Wolf Hills Road/Stratman Lane intersection in Henderson, is looking at any and all options.

“Our goal is to look for any number of smaller projects that could be undertaken that may have a positive impact on traffic flow,” said KYTC District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn. “We’ve asked the consultant to think ‘outside the box’ for anything that may have merit. Although the study is not yet complete, I think that a few ideas will come forth that may be worth pursuing."

According to McClearn, the average 40,000 vehicle per day traffic flow along this section of U.S. 41 creates a number of issues.

“The U.S. 41 Strip carries a mix of local and regional traffic, as well as cross-country traffic, much of it headed to the Twin Bridges connecting Henderson and Evansville,” McClearn said. “Add to that mix 119 access points along a 2.2 mile section and you get a highly congested route with the potential for substantial delays.”

The high number of entrances hampers traffic flow and plays a role in the number of crashes along the busy corridor. Between 2012 and 2014, 433 crashes were reported along that strip of roadway. Of the reported crashes, 86 were injury crashes and 347 were property damage crashes. Rear-end crashes made up 178 of the 433 total.

KyTC engineers and a consultant working on the study established a working group that includes local officials, law enforcement agencies and emergency management personnel to discuss and evaluate options and proposals.

An early proposal to add an extra lane in each direction was deemed unworkable due to lane width and left-turn issues. As the working group has gone through a list of ideas, some appear to be promising. Among others the proposals include:

  • Adding additional left-turn lanes at the Watson Lane intersection
  • Aligning some access points
  • Providing a parallel “backage” road to provide an alternate local connection
  • Moving a traffic signal for Audubon Village Shopping Center to match Barker Road

McClearn said he would like to focus on a couple of key ideas that could be implemented fairly quickly. Some of the more long-term projects would have to be presented to the Kentucky Legislature for funding in the next road plan to be prepared in early 2016.

McClearn said the other long-term issue that may impact traffic along the U.S. 41 North Strip at Henderson is where Interstate 69 will be routed to cross the Ohio River. One proposal is to run the new interstate parallel to the strip with I-69 and U.S. 41 sharing a new bridge that would replace the venerable Twin Bridges.

With construction of an Interstate 69 Ohio River crossing still years in the future, McClearn hopes the study can produce some viable projects to significantly improve traffic flow and safety. McClearn noted that the comprehensive study evolved from ongoing conversations with state Sen. Dorsey Ridley who expressed concern over the growing congestion along the corridor.