A group of Anderson County residents wants a judge to declare that Ky. 151 “poses a clear and present danger to the traveling public” and to force the state Transportation Cabinet to prohibit tractor-trailers from using a segment of the two-lane rural road that has been the site of serious accidents.
Thomas D. Isaac and Don McCormick, in their personal capacity and as members of a citizens group called Group 151, seek a temporary restraining order prohibiting access of the road to large trucks until a judge conducts a hearing for temporary injunction. Isaac and McCormick live along Ky. 151, also known as Graefenburg Road.
The suit names the Commonwealth, the secretary of the state Transportation Cabinet, and the state Department of Highways as defendants. A spokesman for the Transportation Cabinet had no comment Wednesday on the litigation.
The suit specifically mentions a nearly 3-mile stretch of Ky. 151 that runs through the Alton community north of Lawrenceburg. The suit says there have been at least 88 accidents on that segment of road since 2012.
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In May 2013, a big truck ran off the road and collided into the bedroom of a house. In 2014, another truck carrying grain alcohol ran off the road and spilled the load onto private property. There have been other accidents since, including one in October in which a tanker truck ran off the road a few minutes after a school bus carrying children had passed.
Accidents involving large trucks happen on Ky. 151 six times as often as on U.S. 127 in Anderson County during the same 2010-15 reporting period, according data collected by Kentucky State Police. Half the accidents on 151 are “ran off roadway” collisions, while U.S. 127 in Anderson County “did not experience a single accident of this type during the same reporting period,” wrote then-acting state Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas in a March 17 letter to the Federal Highway Administration. (Gov. Matt Bevin appointed Thomas as secretary on April 12.)
In that letter, Thomas asked the Federal Highway Administration to remove the National Truck Network designation from a stretch of Ky. 151 that runs from U.S. 127 in Lawrenceburg north to the Interstate 64 interchange. That network includes state highways approved for use by commercial truck drivers. Federal width and weight limits apply to roads with that designation.
A copy of that letter is included among the exhibits of the litigation filed Monday in Franklin Circuit Court.
The suit says residents along Ky. 151 have asked the state to exclude the road to tractor-trailers since at least April 2004.
The state’s “failure to take immediate action in order to restrict and/or detour” trucks from using the road “creates a clear and present danger to the safety of the community in Alton,” the suit says.
Petitions with the signatures of 150 people are included as exhibits to the suit. The petitions say that if “direct and swift action is not taken to avert heavy truck traffic in this area, a life-altering tragedy will occur.”