Oldham County traffic backup signs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Oldham County drivers will be seeing new flashing lights and signs near I-71 warning of traffic backups.

This week, the signs were erected that are aimed are warning drivers of back-ups and delays on I-71 in the hope of diverting traffic to different routes.

"We had 303 accidents out there last year," Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegle said. "We need more than one way to notify people that they should not go on the interstate."

There are eight signs in total, one on each side of the interstate at the four interchanges of I-71.

The solar powered signs, once activated will flash and warn drivers of incidents in both directions on I-71 but are not capable of providing information about the type of incident.

"We were up to a half million dollars on dealing with other types of system that would tell you exactly what the accident was or something like that," Voegle said.

All told, the project cost the county $122,000. But the plan was met with some resistance as several residences and county leaders were hesitant to spend the money because they felt a similar system was already in place.

Currently, Oldham County does have an emergency alert system that can send traffic updates to residents' phones.

"There are people out there who aren't cell phone literate or tied into doing this all day," Voegle argued.

The signs will be controlled by dispatchers and Voegle hopes the county will also receive cooperation with Jefferson County MetroSafe to be able to warn drivers about incidents in Jefferson County as well.

"These signs will be controlled by our central dispatch office," Voegle said. "Each sign is independently operated. Each sign will be able to turn on and off depending on where the accident is."

However, some believe the money could have been spent more wisely.

"I think the signs are a waste," said Larry Kiser, who commutes from Buckner to Louisville for work. "I'm not against them. I just think there's a different way to pay for them. I proposed that we have sponsored by sections and businesses can pay rent."

But Voegle said that Federal Highway Administration regulations prevent that.

Most agree that I-71 should be widened to help ease congestion.

"I asked the governor again last week to widen this interstate as soon as possible," Voegle said.

A plan is on the books to widen the interstate by 2025.

The signs are expected to be wired and turned out some time next week.

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Travis Ragsdale joined WDRB in Jan. 2015. He focuses primarily on investigative reporting involving police, local government and infrastructure. He can be reached at 502-585-0817