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Residents say Ky. 22 roundabout isn't best traffic improvement

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By John Foster

If Shirley Hagewood is heading home down Ky. 22 from Crestwood at rush hour, she’ll drive right past her street, Wooldridge Avenue. Her husband thinks she’s crazy, but she passes Wooldridge and turns on Central Avenue to make a loop back to her home, she said. It’s just too scary to turn left from Ky. 22 near Clore Lane, when another vehicle could come speeding over the hill and rear-end her, she said. “It’s like bumper cars out there,” she said. Hagewood thinks something needs to be done at that intersection, just not what is proposed — a $1 million roundabout to encompass the intersections of Wooldridge, Clore Lane and Ky. 22. Planning and Zoning Administrator Louise Allen presented plans to an unconvinced crowd at the Pewee Valley City Council meeting Monday night. The intersection is one of several in the county that have a high rate of accidents, she said. A roundabout would alleviate congestion and increase air quality, she said. She cited statistics from engineering firm DLZ that show a roundabout has higher capacity than a traffic signal as well as a 60 percent reduction in accidents compared to other intersections, as well as a 90 percent reduction in fatal accidents. Allen said the roundabout would expand the size of the intersection, necessitating the acquisition of .42 acres of private property compared to .22 acres to install a traffic light. It would also cost the county about $200,000, with the remainder coming from a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant, Allen said. Oldham County Fiscal Court applied for the grant, and Gov. Steve Beshear will have the final decision on recipients, Allen said, with construction to possibly start in 2009. From a local perspective, it’s a done deal, she said. Members of fiscal court are unlikely to reject $800,000 in grant money they sought, she said. Hagewood was one of several Wooldridge residents who attended the meeting Monday to learn about the proposed roundabout and to voice their discontent. She doesn’t like the cost of it. She believes flashing lights and a speed limit lower than the current 55 mph would take care of the safety issue. She also doesn’t like that she and her neighbors would have to give up a portion of their property for the installation. Eric Klehr lives on Wooldridge. He doesn’t have a problem with roundabouts in general — they have been in good use in Europe for ages, he said. He does take issue with the traffic that would be diverted onto his small street and its one-lane bridge. People already use it as a cut-through, he said, but a major intersection would draw more attention to the road, he fears, especially if a 400-home subdivision is built opposite Ky. 22. He shared a common sentiment among those opposing the intersection, that the roundabout will facilitate the development of Brentwood subdivision. The 400-lot subdivision proposed at the end of Clore Lane has been rejected by the Oldham County Planning and Zoning Commission three times. Developers took the decision as high as the Kentucky Court of Appeals where they were also denied, partially due to insufficient road capacity on Clore Lane and an insufficient intersection at Ky. 22. Mayor Bob Rogers said he believes the Brentwood development is driving the process of installing a roundabout. He doesn’t like the idea of a cash-strapped county government spending $200,000 and acquiring land to help a developer. “I just want to make sure the government doesn’t use eminent domain to help a private development,” he said.Allen said the developer, Oldham Farms, has indicated to planning officials they plan to propose another subdivision plan for Brentwood before the planning commission. Representatives for Oldham Farms couldn’t be reached by The Oldham Era. But she said plans for the roundabout don’t cater to Brentwood’s Oldham Farms, and having a roundabout wouldn’t guarantee approval for the development from the planning commission. Allen said even without additional homes on Clore Lane, congestion on Ky. 22 will only get worse as development increases throughout the South Oldham area. Wholesale widening of the road is cost-prohibitive, she said, so improvements are needed at select points along the highway — specifically at Ky. 22 and Wooldridge/Clore Lane. "Something needs to be done at that intersection today regardless of whether that development goes in,” Allen said.

E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com