Woodford County

Many steer clear of downtown Versailles

VERSAILLES — Traffic is enough of problem in this city of 7,800 that more than half of the respondents in an instant poll taken Monday night acknowledged using side streets between two to five days a week to avoid downtown congestion.

That wasn't news to Toni Curtis, who lives on Montgomery Avenue, a street lined with historic homes.

"I've lived here for over 40 years and I have problems on my street because it is one of those cut-through streets," Curtis said Monday night after at a public meeting to discuss traffic congestion.

In a kind of instant poll, an audience of about 70 people answered a series of questions using a hand-held keypads, and their collective answers were then projected onto a large screen.

Thirty-three percent of the respondents said they use cut-through streets to avoid traffic four or five days a week. Another 21 percent said they use cut-throughs two or three days a week.

Asked "How much of a problem is traffic congestion along Main Street through downtown" at morning and afternoon rush hours, 31 percent of the respondents answered that it is "a very big problem."

Monday's meeting at Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center was the first to gather data for a $200,000 transportation study paid by the city. The study is paid through money from the state.

The purpose of the study is come up with recommended plan for better mobility. Some people think that means a new bypass around the western edge of Versailles, but Tom Creasey, an engineer for Entran, the firm conducting the study, said all alternatives will be considered.

Kathy Mirilovich hopes that's true. She remembers a meeting years ago in which a large group of people at the old Woodford County Middle School were opposed to a bypass.

"Everybody almost to the man said we don't want a bypass, we don't need a big old road coming through this town," Mirilovich said.

In 2003, a new four-lane connector road between U.S. 62 and Ky. 33 opened on the southern edge of Versailles, and it was hailed as a way to reduce truck traffic through downtown. But big rigs still rattle downtown windows.

Nineteen percent of the respondents said emissions and noise from trucks is a "very big" problem; but 22 percent said it's not a big deal.

Asked whether the solutions to congestion should maintain the character of Versailles and Woodford County, 75 percent said they strongly agree.

On another question, 58 percent said the solutions to downtown traffic should be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. Also, 59 percent said green space is "important to our quality of life."

These percentages include only answers from the first interactive session and do not include answers from a second session later in the evening.

Percentages from both sessions will be put on a Web site for the study, www.nwversailles.com.

Monday's meeting was the first of three public meetings. Two more will be held in March and May.