Douglas blames Frankfort for no action on requested stoplight in high fatality area

JUNCTION CITY — Since a fatality crash that killed a Junction City pedestrian in July 2016, the lack of lighting at the intersection at U.S. 127 and Shelby Street has been an ongoing discussion at Junction City Council meetings, and Thursday was no different.

“I emailed the governor’s office and the Kentucky Department of Transportation. They both told me they’re waiting on us,” said council member Pete Kendrick, who joined the council in January.

“They’re not waiting on us; they lie to everybody. They’re the ones that has to issue the permits,” Mayor Jim Douglas said.

Douglas said he has been in contact with Congressman Brett Guthrie’s office, and is talking to Senator Chris Girdler and Rep. Daniel Elliott’s office, about getting someone to place lights in the intersection.

Asked about the lighting issue on Friday, Guthrie said Steve Miller, the local area contact for his office, had been in contact with Douglas and was working to find the right people for Douglas to speak to.

“We don’t get to make the decision from Washington, but we are certainly engaged in trying to find the right people,” Guthrie said.

In past conversations with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Douglas said, they were told “in not so many words” that nothing would be done at the light by the state because “not enough people have been killed.”

Douglas claims he was inadvertently told when enough deaths happen, the state would take action.

“It goes back to — they’re the ones that have to do it,” Douglas said.

On Friday, Douglas said he was going to work with someone from Kentucky Utilities to see what plan could be drawn up and that he was going to contact someone from the state transportation cabinet.

According a September 2016 article in The Advocate-Messenger, Natasha Lacy with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said any agency is allowed to apply for a permit to place their own lighting at an intersection. Applicants must include a map view of where they want the light poles and information on the type of lighting. The entire cost falls upon the agency seeking the installation. It is usually installed by the local power company, Lacy said. But the request could also be denied, she noted.

The Transportation Cabinet’s lighting policy stipulates:

• light poles must be located between five and 15 feet from the “rightmost edge of the shoulder on both mainline and side street approaches;”

• lights should be between 200 and 250 watts;

• lights must be mounted a minimum of 35 feet above the roadway; and

• lights can be mounted parallel to the roadway or diagonal to the intersection.

Kendrick said on Friday that he had spoken with Kelly Baker, chief district engineer of District 7, as well as Jon Park, director of constituent services for Gov. Matt Bevin’s office. Both explained that the Transportation Cabinet only installs new lighting along major roadways and intersections “if it is warranted and part of a highway plan project.”

“According to our policy, this request would need to be made from the local governmental agency (city or county) by permit. The local government typically works with the local electric company to prepare the design and submit the request.  Once we approve it, the electric company would proceed with installation,” the email from Baker to Kendrick reads.

Douglas confirmed that no one, to his knowledge, has submitted an application for the city to put up the lights.

The council also:

• Approved a request by Police Chief Merl Baldwin to place “No Parking” signs on April Drive and West Kentucky Avenue because of complaints about people parking on the side of the street.

• Heard from Douglas that he would seek out bids to repair the roof on the city municipal building, which houses city hall and the fire department. The building has leaks, among other issues, evident from the use of a trash can to catch water dripping during a meeting.

• Approved a request from the fire department to cover the costs of two officers to attend officer training in Owensboro. It will be about $165 per officer.

• Heard about a forum being held at the Boyle County Public Library at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the community center, to talk about plans for the library in the county.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.