Sheriff's department increases patrols around U.S. 60 detour

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com A semitrailer comes into the Stanley area on Kentucky 1554 on Tuesday during the detour of U.S. 60 West during construction to raise the road.

The Daviess County Sheriff's Department is attempting to increase patrols on roads near the closed section of U.S. 60 West in the Stanley area after receiving complaints of people speeding in residential areas and of semitrailers driving through roads not meant for heavy truck traffic.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has had complaints too -- from highway workers who have reported motorists driving through the closed section.

The state closed U.S. 60 West between the 5.690 and 6.822 mile points on June 26. The goal of the project is to raise the road to make it less likely to flood. The section of roadway is expected to be closed until about the end of the year.

The detour around the closure for local traffic takes drivers along Kentucky 279, Kentucky 56 and Kentucky 1554. While motorists trying to get to Henderson from Owensboro are encouraged to take the Audubon Parkway, semitrailers going to and from Kimberly-Clark can't take the parkway.

Major Barry Smith, chief deputy for the sheriff's department, said the detour is a much longer route and there have been complaints of drivers speeding the residential areas. The department has "had a lot of phone calls" from residents in the area, he said.

"The detour is causing a major increase in traffic those roads are not used to," Smith said. Semitrailers have also been using Griffith Station Road to avoid the detour, but that road was not constructed for heavy truck traffic, he said.

On Monday night, a semitrailer got stuck on railroad tracks on Griffith Station Road, and a semitrailer traveling along the narrow roadway went off the edge and overturned on the road last week, Smith said.

"They shouldn't be on Griffith Station at all," Smith said.

Keith Todd, public information officer for the state highway department's Madisonville office, said the road work has slowed down emergency responders, who have to navigate the detour. Todd said a problem for the contractor is that some motorists have been ignoring the detour signs entirely.

"I do know our contractor has had problems with people trying to drive through the closed section of the roadway," Todd said. "... There's a group of people out there that think 'road closed' signs don't include them."

People can be cited for driving through a closed road, with an additional $50 fine for every closed sign they ignore or traffic barrel they move, Todd said. But people driving the closed part of the highway will face a bigger problem when contractors start tearing out sections of the road for the project.

"Someone is going to go through there and come face to face with a big hole in the road," Todd said.

State road crews did shoring up work on Kentucky 279, Kentucky 56 and Kentucky 1554 shortly before U.S. 60 was closed to make the three highways better suited for semitrailer traffic, Todd said. As far as trucks and driving ignoring the detour, "people are always going to look for the shortest route," Todd said.

Smith said the sheriff's department has increased its daily patrols in the area around the closed session.

"Our west end units are trying to patrol that area as much as we can, and we've notified KSP and KVE (Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement) about the semis traveling on Griffith Station Road," Smith said. "We are trying to be out there two to three times a day at least."

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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