Keeping truckers off the tracks in Crestwood

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By Glen Jennings

In an effort to stop semi trucks from stranding themselves on Crestwood’s railroad crossings, Fiscal Court passed a resolution to reclassify the road, taking it off GPS and map applications for truckers.

“We all know one of the most dangerous railroad crossings in Oldham County is in Crestwood at Railroad Avenue,” Jim Urban, director of Planning and Zoning, said at the February 21 meeting. “Trucks regularly get hung up on it.”

According to Oldham County Dispatch director Kevin Nuss, 82 trucks have become immobilized on the railroad tracks in Crestwood since January 2015. According to previous Era reports, this includes one collision in February of 2016. 

The resolution would request that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) reclassify the road as a local road rather than a major collector. This would route traffic onto the Highway 329 Bypass instead of the smaller main road.

“By changing the functional classification of Kentucky 329 in this segment, the cabinet feels that it will change its own maps and then it will be picked up by applications and electronic mapping, and therefore not route trucks on the old roadway,” Urban said. “This really is the first step in the process.”

Urban said he has spoken to the mayor and a member of the city council who both agreed to pass a similar resolution and to transfer the responsibility of maintaining the road to Crestwood.

Magistrates largely supported the measure, agreeing that stopping further accidents was an important goal.

“We have had an uptick in the number of trucks that have been stuck on the track recently,” Judge-Executive David Voegele said. “I hear about one every week or two, it seems like. It’s getting more and more frequent and I think we’re just trying to create a safety condition here.”

Some magistrates wondered why such a measure had not been implemented by KYTC or the railroad.

“They should have seen this problem,” Magistrate Steve Greenwell said of KYTC. “They didn’t do it, and they should have. Here we are 15 years later having to clean up their mess.”

The measure passed unanimously.

In other news

Fiscal court approved a zoning change in Buckner that would allow an apartment complex and a grocery store be built in the area. 

The property, near the Oldham County Family YMCA, was formerly zoned for industrial use. It has been split into three pieces and rezoned for both commercial and residential use. One piece of the property will remain zoned for industrial applications.

The applicant plans to use the property to add an IGA grocery store, a gas station and a 72-unit apartment complex with garages. The property straddles Quality Place and Highway 146. It will have exits that lead to both roads.

John Talbott, an attorney representing the applicant, said the apartment complex would help prepare for further growth in Oldham County.

“It is estimated that there will be 7,500 additional people in this county from 2015 to 2020, which is why we think the apartments are going to be especially useful and important to this project,” Talbott said.

He added that the complex and grocery’s central location, which puts it close to several local businesses, makes the location more attractive.

The applicants also volunteered to pay for improvements to Quality Place themselves.

Magistrates expressed concern about the effect the development would have on roads and traffic, in particular that it could increase traffic in the area, forcing them into constructing a road parallel to 146 to help compensate for increased road use.

Fiscal court has tried to build the access road in the past, but was unable to convince property owners in the area to sell the land needed. Magistrates asked Talbott if he would consider selling his land to start the process. Talbott responded that he would prefer to appraise the land and sell it at fair market value.

He added that he had not had the chance to discuss the matter with the applicants prior to the hearing and was unwilling to commit to selling the land needed for the road.

“I see this access road as being very integral to this,” Magistrate Kevin Eldridge said. “The biggest part of building a road is the engineering and the right-of-way acquisition. At some point in the future, we’re going to need this.”

Although some magistrates suggested tabling the matter to further plan for the road, fiscal court voted to pass the zoning change. Magistrates Steve Greenwell and Kevin Eldridge voted no.

The measure will need approval from the Crestwood City Commission before it can be enacted.