Fayette County

Beaumont traffic study to focus on short-term, long-term solutions for rush hour crunch

Traffic was stuck Jan. 25 in the intersection of Beaumont Centre Parkway and Fieldstone Way, a common occurrence in the Harrodsburg Road development.
Traffic was stuck Jan. 25 in the intersection of Beaumont Centre Parkway and Fieldstone Way, a common occurrence in the Harrodsburg Road development. palcala@herald-leader.com

The perks of living and working in Beaumont Centre are many — nearby grocery stores, restaurants, running paths, an outdoor amphitheater and the Carol M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA.

The downside — traffic bottlenecks at evening and morning rush hours.

“Between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. if you’re trying to get onto Harrodsburg Road from Beaumont, it’s a mad house. Sometimes you have to wait through several lights,” said John Powell, president of the Beaumont Residential Association, and a Beaumont resident for 15 years. “Even when the light changes, there is nowhere to go.”

The planned mixed-use development on the city’s southwest side has experienced a commercial boom in recent years. In the past year, new businesses including Alliance Coal, a satellite office of Lexington Clinic, Creative Lodging Solutions and other retail shops have opened in Beaumont Centre. Stantec, an engineering firm, will open an office there this fall, bringing 180 employees. Also on tap is a new hotel and an assisted living facility that is expected to open in 2017.

Lexington Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe, who represents and lives in the Beaumont area, has pushed for a traffic study since before she was elected in 2014. Bledsoe has obtained $125,000 of city funds, some from the 2015 surplus, for a study that will look at both short-term and long-term solutions to manage traffic in the rapidly growing area. Bledsoe said the city is expected to release the bid for the study in February and hopes to have the results by summer.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials and the area metropolitan planning organization have been involved in developing the request for the proposal for the study, Bledsoe said. Harrodsburg Road, also known as U.S. 68, is a state highway.

“We want to look at possible short-term solutions and then long-term solutions,” Bledsoe said. In addition to looking at rush-hour traffic problems, the study will look at how to decrease cut-through traffic in Beaumont neighborhoods, Bledsoe said.

The area to be studied will include the roads into Beaumont Centre but also the area south to Man O War Boulevard and Palomar Center. Those roadways also have traffic congestion during rush hour.

One of the main congested areas is on Beaumont Centre Parkway into Beaumont Circle from Harrodsburg Road. There are two traffic lights on Beaumont Centre Parkway before drivers enter Beaumont Circle Drive. During rush hour, people can sit through multiple cycles of lights before they can turn onto Harrodsburg Road, Beaumont residents say.

Powell said more people are using neighborhood streets to avoid Beaumont Centre Parkway. For example, people are now taking Snaffle Road — which goes through a neighborhood — to Fort Harrods Road and then to Man O War Boulevard as a way to avoid that intersection.

Cars and trucks are traveling much too fast through the neighborhood, Powell said.

“We are concerned with the volume and the speed,” Powell said. “We are interested in a fix that’s good for the neighborhood but does not impede commercial growth.”

Some short-term fixes that could be explored include prohibiting left-hand turns in certain areas particularly during rush hour or looking at traffic signal timing. Bledsoe said any long-term fixes involving new lanes or other major infrastructure changes could take years to build and could be costly. But the traffic study will give local, state and area transportation groups ideas of how much those fixes could cost.

“If we can get the study this summer, then we can start preparing for the next fiscal year and the next budget,” Bledsoe said. “Everyone agrees that it’s an issue. But it’s not going to be just one fix.”

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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