A deadly stretch of highway put to rest

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By Becky Barnes

Last week we reported on the pending reconstruction of U.S. 27 North between mile points 11.9 and 12.4.
Finally, a road project I can get behind wholeheartedly.
I have repeatedly said I’m on the fence about the by-pass. There are pros and cons.
With the reconstruction, I can find no cons.
I’m certain the property owners whose homes might be in danger feel differently. However, had the design been done properly back in the 1980s, this would be a non-issue today.
There were many rumors being volleyed about while the truck climbing lanes were being constructed to create the deadly “S” curve.
Today, the why is moot.
The important thing is that this project move forward without delay.
So far, legislators have funded the design, right of way purchase and utility relocation at a cost of $1.350 million. Funds are still in limbo for the construction.
State Rep. Tom McKee said last week that he saw no reason the funds would not be available in 2014.
I’m going to be watching this project. Not only do I drive through the curve at least twice a day, but my daughter had a serious crash there on Feb. 14, 2006.
No one really knows what happened that morning. There was talk of black ice and over-correcting, but nothing definitive.
She was headed toward town and, for whatever reason, her vehicle tumbled end over end until it hit the ditch line and then rolled side over side, tossing her unbelted body around inside the SUV like a rag doll in a dryer.
When the tumbling stopped, Erin was sitting on the driver’s side window with her back braced against the steering wheel.
The first call she made was to me.
When I answered the phone all I heard was her screaming that she was hurt and that I needed to get to her.
Her injuries were substantial. Her back and neck were broken, she had liver damage, her shoulder had to be reconstructed and she had broken ribs.
She and I spent one day shy of two weeks at the University of Kentucky’s trauma center then another three months at home rehabilitating.
And, with all that, she was one of the lucky ones.
She survived.
Others have not been so fortunate. The most recent fatality occurred last fall when a Pendleton County woman was killed on her way to work in Lexington.
There’s no denying that it’s a deadly stretch of highway.
The state has put up numerous yellow signs to caution drivers. After Erin’s wreck, more yellow signs were erected; these with (sometime) flashing lights.
It will be a great day when that curve is gone. I plan to be there when the soil is turned to begin the project and when the ribbon is cut or whatever fanfare comes with the opening of the new road.
It will definitely be a celebration of life for my family.