Boyle has cart before the horse in opposition to rumor of lane reduction

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018


The Advocate-Messenger

If you run into a Boyle County elected official and want to see their eyes bug out, try saying the words “road diet” and see what happens.

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For whatever reason, the poorly conceived nickname for an ultimately failed project to reduce the number of lanes on Danville’s Main Street makes many in local government blow a gasket.

The mere thought that the lane reduction project could be coming back was enough to get the Boyle County Fiscal Court to act unanimously last week. There isn’t anything to oppose or support at this point — the Transportation Cabinet is currently analyzing the city’s downtown traffic flow in order to determine if it could be improved. But magistrates passed a motion anyway, opposing the rumor that the state Transportation Cabinet might have an idea about changing the flow of traffic downtown.

Whether or not you liked the “road diet” when it was making headlines four years ago, let’s assume for all intents and purposes it was a bad idea. Let’s assume it would have hurt downtown Danville more than it helped and the city was lucky so many opposed it and the state canceled its plans.

Now, assuming all that is true, should Boyle County again oppose the road diet if it resurfaces? Sure. Has the road diet resurfaced? No.

What has resurfaced is the state Transportation Cabinet doing one of the many things the state Transportation Cabinet does — it analyzes Kentucky’s highways and works to make sure they’re running efficiently. The state is looking at Danville’s Main Street — a road that carries multiple important highway routes — to learn about how traffic flows there now and to decide if any changes are warranted in the future. Results won’t be done until spring at the earliest.

State officials have already said they would approach local officials first with any ideas they have and gauge the officials’ receptiveness, which sounds to us like they’re specifically trying to avoid repeating the great road diet snafu of 2014.

There’s a legal concept called “de novo review” that could be useful for local officials in this situation. De novo review is when a court essentially re-hears a case fresh, without considering any prior hearings or court decisions.

It would be wise for Boyle officials to take a breath, gather their thoughts and listen to whatever the state has to suggest with fresh ears. If the state does actually re-propose the feared road diet and nothing is altered or improved, then Boyle County officials and residents can react how they wish — go nuts.

But there’s a very good possibility that the state won’t poke that hornets’ nest. And there’s also a good chance the traffic data collected by the state could actually reveal ways to make drivers, pedestrians and/or downtown businesses happier.

Who here is really willing to argue that downtown traffic is fabulous as is? Show of hands? Anyone? We didn’t think so.

We think Boyle officials should welcome the state to give any input it can. Let’s see what comes out of it before we make up our minds. A cooperative approach will always yield better results than an adversarial one.