Traffic signal pole issue expedites change

PADUCAH, Ky. (News First)  The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to convert the intersection of U.S. 60 and U.S. 641 in Marion from a traffic signal to an all-way stop on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

Conversion of the signalized intersection to an all-way stop is being expedited due to the deterioration of a signal support pole at the northeast corner of the intersection. This is at the intersection of Gum Street and South Main Street in Marion.

As part of a study of traffic flow at the intersection, KYTC engineers temporarily converted it to an all-way stop for several weeks in early 2022. The study found that the intersection functioned well without a signal and reduced delays created by vehicles making left-turns — even with heavy bus and passenger vehicle traffic when nearby schools dismissed for the day.

“We are confident the intersection will function efficiently as an all-way stop,” said KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Kyle Poat. “Making the conversion now will allow local drivers to become familiar with the new traffic pattern before school starts this fall. It will also save taxpayers the $80,000 or more it would cost to construct a new signal system at this location.”

It’s also an option that would keep trucks from hitting signal poles as has occurred in the past, providing a better turning radius for trucks while enhancing traffic flow.

Approximately 8,200 vehicles travel through the intersection in an average day. U.S. 641 connects with and terminates at U.S. 60 (Main Street) on the north-south legs of the intersection. U.S. 60 (Gum Street) serves as the west leg of the intersection with the east leg being a city street.

On Thursday, traffic signals and equipment will be removed and all-way stop signs placed at each leg of the intersection. 

The change is being expedited after it appeared that a signal head had been hit by a passing truck over the weekend, which resulted in the signals being placed it in red flashing mode. On Monday, a signal crew found that deterioration of a utility pole that supports the overhead signal system was causing the problem. Engineers also determined that all of the local utility companies had moved their lines off the pole in recent years.

As engineers continued investigating issues with the signal, they determined that the signal needed to be taken off the pole as quickly as possible so the pole could be taken down.

As the intersection transitions to an all-way stop on Thursday, traffic engineers remind motorists to be alert for changes in traffic flow the move will create. The all-way stop also has the advantage of calming traffic to match the 35 mile per hour and 25 mile per hour speed limit sections along Main Street through downtown Marion.

The transition to an all-way stop is expected to start around 8 a.m., CDT, Thursday, and take several hours to complete.  Motorists should be alert for flaggers controlling traffic during the transition as a KYTC signal crew removes the existing signal and installs appropriate signage.

This intersection is at U.S. 60 mile point 9.2 and U.S. 641 mile point 7.02 in Crittenden County, just south of the downtown area in Marion. 

The intersection is about a mile east of a U.S. 60 work zone for construction of a new turn lane for the Crittenden County Middle and High School Complex and the Crittenden County Hospital. That project to enhance traffic flow and school access is expected to be completed around August 10, in time for school to start this fall.