Paxton Weddington, section engineer for Highway District 12, said the contractor, Mountain Enterprises, expects the work to impact traffic for about two weeks.
“Southbound traffic will be reduced to one lane on Thursday, October 1,” Weddington said. “On Wednesday (today), work will focus on a new right turn only lane off the southbound slow lane just below the tennis courts.”
The purpose of the new right turn only lane is to relieve congestion at the main intersection, which is just yards down the road. “Faculty and students who are going into the parking lot at Pike Central each morning will have a more direct turn into the lot. This will mean fewer vehicles at the main intersection, which should make it easier and safer to make a left turn across traffic from the northbound lane onto school property,” Weddington explained.
Pike County Schools Superintendent Roger Wagner said, “I certainly want to show my gratitude and appreciation to the officials at District 12 for coming forward to help us address this problem.”
He asked parents to “bear with us” through this construction time. He said that Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee has agreed to have the two deputies who normally assist at the intersection in the mornings stay through the construction period.
“We are so grateful to the Sheriff’s Office. It is a sacrifice for them to assign two deputies to this spot every morning. We realize they are under-staffed, and we are so appreciative of their assistance. Hopefully the intersection improvements that the Transportation Cabinet makes will result in a better and safer driving experience for people going to Mullins Middle School as well as Pike County Central.”
Chief District Engineer Kevin Damron said the Transportation Cabinet was hoping and planning to do this work during the past summer. The first time the project went out for bids, all of them came in over the amount budgeted for the work. The project had to go out for bids a second time, which is what caused the delay in the start of construction. “Our goal is to have the work completed in a timely manner, definitely within a month. The contractor thinks it can be finished in two weeks if the weather cooperates.”
Damron said he knows this will be an inconvenience, especially for people traveling to either school during the early morning hours. “But the road will remain open. We won’t have any road closures, just lane closures that will slow down traffic, so people might want to leave a few minutes earlier for the next couple of weeks.” He said that construction will proceed as quickly as safety considerations and the weather allow.
In addition to the new right turn only lane, the project includes widening the mouth of the entrance road to the schools, shifting the median for the southbound lanes, and making the left turn lane longer so that it will hold more vehicles waiting to turn left. The amount of the contract is $219,019.00. The work zone extends from 0.18 mile south of the school entrance to 0.692 miles north.
Motorist should be alert through the work zone area. Watch for lane closures and for signs which guide drivers to the open lanes.
“As soon as you see an arrow or a sign that indicates traffic is to merge left or right, begin to get into the proper lane,” Weddington said. “Don’t wait until you can’t go any further in that lane and then try to cut over. That is what slows down the traffic. Plus, it isn’t a safe way to merge and causes sideswipes and rear end crashes. It’s much safer and smoother to merge as soon as you have room after you see the signs which tell you the road is going to be reduced to one lane.”