“Information superhighway” in the 1990s referred to the internet. In 2020, at least locally, it could easily and accurately refer to the intersection of U.S. Highway 62 and Ky. Highway 93 at Eddyville.
That’s where literally the rubber meets the road, providing transportation officials high-tech information on how the road is being used. Just beware that posting a right-of-way sign there could cost $5,000.
“We’re installing a new traffic detection system to eliminate the traffic congestion and speed up the turns and stops,” Jordan Yates said last week. He’s the Kentucky highway superintendent for Lyon County.
“This is new technology. For as long as you can remember, the detection was actually installed in the asphalt and when you drove over it, the pressure sensed it. This actually is based (instead) on radio waves. There’s nothing in the pavement anymore to worry about getting damaged.”
The Eddyville project is the first intersection in Kentucky to install this system.
“This is an improvement in the technology of it,” Yates said. “With this system, we will be able to get reports on traffic here. The other systems just detected vehicles and would make the stoplights change. This is more about safety than anything else — to prevent people pulling out in front of each other and that sort of thing.”
In the past, when traffic signals would malfunction, usually a technician would need to drive up, open the box, and reset the system. Instead, traffic officials can operate the new system remotely to save time and increase efficiency.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineer Tom Hines is in charge of traffic and permits. “What is nice about the radar systems is that when (state workers) come and resurface the road, there’s nothing in the road anymore,” he said. “So, they are not going to tear it up when they mill the road and resurface it. It’s almost like a jet finder that’s shooting radars out and you see them coming back. They’re also safer to install because we’re never out installing (materials) in the road, making us detour traffic or close lanes.”
The specific system installed at the Eddyville intersection is the first one from its company used in the state. However, Hines said other brands already used in the same district are producing excellent results. “This is a pilot project here, so, we’re excited to get the chance to see how this system works and maybe this company can get a contract with the state,” he said.
Lyon County Sheriff Brent White and Eddyville Police Chief Jaime Green were among law enforcement officials on hand for the installation. Included in their perspective on the project are thoughts on safety and legal issues.
Right-of-way signs are prohibited on state roadways such as this. One reason is that anyone who posts a sign into the ground or pavement could strike wires and other technology needed there for various purposes.
“That’s a $5,000 mistake (and fine) because the state’s got to replace that wire,” Green said. “The main thing is that you can’t put up signs on the right-of-way corners of the intersection. So, it’s better to call and ask whether you can put up a sign (at a particular site). Otherwise, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is going to take it down.”