A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

‘Wrong-Way’ crash prevention project to improve safety, to start with Fayette and Jefferson counties


A design build team has been selected for a $9.5 million project to monitor and bolster safety on Kentucky corridors prone to wrong-way crashes, says Gov. Andy Beshear. The team is collaborating with state transportation officials to create a pilot project this summer to test new technologies along select ramps in Fayette County before deploying to other locations starting this fall.

“Wrong-way driving is a major safety issue that can lead to devastating consequences,” said Gov. Beshear. “This work will help us keep more Kentucky families safe on our roadways.”

Kentucky’s Wrong-Way Driving and Integrated Safety Technology System will use cutting-edge computing and detection to implement a pilot program aimed at detecting and deterring wrong-way incidents by alerting the wrong-way driver, other drivers and emergency responders. Additionally, the system will improve existing intelligent transportation systems to monitor and detect other safety concerns related to pedestrians, debris and halted vehicles on the roadway.

Stansell Electric is the prime contractor and Parsons Engineering is the lead designer and integrator in developing the innovative technology to be deployed along five interstate ramps in Fayette County. A small-scale, three-month pilot program will begin in the summer of 2024 on select Interstate Highway 75 ramps in Fayette County, to test the accuracy, resiliency and capabilities of different available systems before deploying to the final selected locations. Currently, vendors and the specific technology solutions to be tested are being evaluated and will be finalized before the pilot begins.

Plans for the Wrong-Way Driving and Integrated Safety Technology system consist of four elements:

1 Detection System – Identifies wrong-way incidents and other safety concerns in real time
2 Deterrent System – Activates warnings designed to discourage the wrong-way drivers
3 Alert System – Notifies drivers traveling in the correct direction that a wrong-way driver is detected; notifies first responder dispatchers of location of detected wrong-way driver
4 Mainline Monitoring System – Identifies mainline safety concerns (pedestrians, debris, disabled vehicles, etc.)

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) awarded the contract for the project, which is estimated to cost up to $9.5 million when complete. The project is funded by a $5.14 million federal grant to improve highway safety on interstates to prevent wrong-way crashes, along with a state match.

“Improving highway safety is a core focus of this administration, and we’re pleased to pilot the latest in technological advancements to help prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roadways,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “While innovative solutions can be part of the answer to curbing these incidents, it can never replace the need for drivers to make safe driving decisions, like never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”


 
Ultimately, six corridors in Fayette and Jefferson counties will feature the vetted technology.

Selected Sites for New Technology After Pilot:

• Fayette County: New Circle Road/Kentucky Highway 4 from Newtown Pike to Richmond Road
• Fayette County: I-75/I-64 from Newtown Pike to the Southern Split
• Fayette County: I-75 from the Southern Split to Clays Ferry Bridge
• Jefferson County: I-264 from I-64 to I-65
• Jefferson County: I-64 from the Ohio River to Pee Wee Reese Road
• Jefferson County: I-65 from the Ohio River to Kentucky Highway 1065 (Outer Loop)

Existing digital and roadway signage will be integrated into a comprehensive system that will include additional signs, cameras, sensors and other equipment purchased with the grant funds. Final locations were identified based on crash history and ramp design on interstate ramps in Fayette and Jefferson counties as most wrong-way crashes occur in these areas, with the potential to expand to other counties throughout the state.

“Roadway infrastructure improvements are part of a comprehensive effort to curb these tragic events,” said Secretary Gray. “In addition to implementing this new technological system, we’ll continue researching statewide opportunities to address wrong-way crashes, such as striping and signage. While our existing signage and markings meet federal requirements, we’re looking at how to enhance visibility and uniformity at every off-ramp.”
 
Between 2015 and 2023, there were 191 crashes involving wrong-way driving in Kentucky on interstates and parkways. These 191 crashes resulted in 55 fatalities and 76 serious injuries.

Kentucky was one of 10 grant recipients awarded funding by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration as part of an Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) program.


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