Thursday, July 12, 2001

Ky. 237 traffic a mess

Park and homes are contributors

By Stephenie Steitzer
Enquirer Contributor

        BURLINGTON — Don Baker can't let his dog roam and play on his rural Camp Ernst Road property.

        Mr. Baker is afraid Sebastian, a Siberian husky, will get hit by one of many cars that speed up and down the winding two-lane road, also known as Ky. 237, just south of Ky. 18.

        “It's almost impossible to pull out of here on Saturdays and Sundays,” Mr. Baker said, standing in his driveway.

[photo] Residential development and an athletic complex have contributed to increased traffic on Ky. 237.
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        Growth and a new sports complex have increased the number of cars on the road by thousands a day in the past 10 years. And changes that would realign and widen the road aren't on the state's list of projects for the next 100 years.

        Along the posted 45-mph road, from the intersection of the neighboring Pleasant Valley Road to Hathaway Road, new, large-scale subdivisions are interspersed between older, small-scale farms and homes.

        Pebble Creek subdivision, which was completed in the early '90s, is among the developments that have contributed to the increased traffic. Almost 100 houses are part of the development.

        Narrow Ky. 237 is flooded with vehicles — from minivans chock-full of soccer players to multiton trucks loaded with gravel — traveling quickly over hills and past blind driveways.

        Much of that traffic is going to and from 121-acre Central Park, a few miles south. The park, established in 1993, includes six soccer fields, six baseball fields, tennis and basketball courts, a playground and two walking trails. It draws residents from all over Boone County.

        “Kids play ball there and people fly up and down this little country road,” said Dave Geohegan, Boone County director of planning services. “It just wasn't made for that.”

        Mr. Geohegan said the growth isn't slowing down. In fact, the county's comprehensive plan shows continued residential growth all along Camp Ernst Road through 2025.

        Mr. Geohegan said one developer has recently submitted a request to change the zoning in one area from agricultural to a zone that allows up to four units per acre.

        He said fewer developers are building in county agricultural zones, which allow only one house per 2 acres, because of rising land prices.

        County Sheriff Mike Helmig said Camp Ernst Road has become increasingly dangerous because of the continued growth.

        Mr. Helmig estimates at least one accident per week occurs on the road. Accident records for the county show it's a little less than that, with 24 so far this year in the 28th week of 2001.

        “It's a very busy road and it has some places that can be dangerous,” Mr. Helmig said.

        To Mr. Baker's dismay, the situation on Camp Ernst Road can only get worse before it gets better.

    On Camp Ernst Road, from Ky. 18 to Hathaway Road, an increasing number of traffic accidents have occurred since 1999:
    • In 1999: 30 accidents, with six injuries and no fatalities.
    • In 2000: 36 accidents, with six injuries and no fatalities.
    • Jan. 1 to July 5, 2001 (6 months): 24 accidents, with 12 injuries and no fatalities.
    Available data for Pleasant Valley Road, from Oakbrook Road to U.S. 42, indicate about the same number of accidents as on Camp Ernst.
   Source: Boone County Records Center and Kentucky Department of Highways
        “We identified what needs to be done in the future, but there is no money to do the work,” said Mike Bezold, a transportation engineer for the state Department of Highways.

        The state has identified Camp Ernst Road from the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road to Hathaway Road as needing a complete realignment, including widening. The project, however, is not included on either the state's funded or unfunded needs lists.

        Mr. Bezold said he didn't know why Camp Ernst Road wasn't on the unfunded list, which includes $60 billion worth of projects to be done over the next 100 years.

        He added, however, that it isn't on the funded list because the department has made it a priority to fix Pleasant Valley Road, which should alleviate some of the Camp Ernst Road traffic.

        Highways department data show an estimated 5,000 vehicles a day travel on the busiest section of Camp Ernst Road, while 11,000 pass through Pleasant Valley Road.

        The department's projections for 2025 show that improving Pleasant Valley Road would produce less traffic on Camp Ernst than actually fixing Camp Ernst.

        Mr. Geohegan said the county is making some plans to accommodate growth and traffic on the road, which is Boone County's responsibility until a complete alignment is constructed.

        He said the county is considering connections to nearby roads ahead of development, so residents have multiple ways in and out of the area.

        Mr. Geohegan also said subdivision developers are required to leave setbacks for future plans.

        He added: “We are kind of planning around the idea that someday that road would be relocated and reconstructed.”


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