Herald-Leader editorial notebook: Online voter registration, Legacy Trail and Citation Boulevard

Voter registration online good step

Kentuckians have long been able to buy and sell pretty much anything, get news, view funny cat videos and serious films, communicate instantly with far-flung friends, family and colleagues, play games, plan travel, pay taxes and bills and do a host of other activities online.

Starting next year, they also will be able to engage in one of the most fundamental civic activities online: registering to vote.

Removing barriers to registration is particularly important today when voter participation is at all-time lows.

Military personnel and voters living overseas have been able to register online in Kentucky since last year.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and the Kentucky Board of Elections have worked to make online registration available to everyone. Grimes said 29 other states and the District of Columbia already have online voter registration.

Voters will also be able to make changes in their registration — such as switching parties or moving to a new address — online.

It will cost about $50,000 to set up the system and train county clerks. A federal program will pay that but experience in other states indicates online registration could save county clerks $100,000 a year.

It's that rare thing in political life, a true win-win.

State, city respond quickly on safety

It was a great moment Monday afternoon when, at last, the section of Citation Boulevard connecting Leestown Road and Newtown Pike opened. The extension meant people could get around west Lexington without navigating two-lane country roads built for lighter, slower traffic.

But a serious problem quickly emerged where the new four-lane connector met up with Greendale Road, a two-lane road that gives neighborhoods access to Citation.

With no traffic light, residents struggled to make it across Citation, where the speed limit is 50 mph. By yesterday, Lexington police had investigated at least five accidents at the intersection.

The Citation extension had been delayed many years but the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet responded quickly to assure public safety on the new road. It promised a stoplight at the intersection ASAP and in the meantime, has limited traffic movement to improve safety. Lexington police are keeping a close eye out for speeders there.

People often complain about how slowly government moves, but both the Cabinet and Lexington police wasted no time to assure safety on this new road.

Key additions to The Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail has proven to be a popular amenity ever since it opened five years ago. In all seasons individuals, groups and families walk, run and cycle on the paved trail that links Lexington's urban and rural environments.

Last week the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council approved an imaginative proposal to turn an engineering necessity — a huge, five-story-tall stormwater holding tank — into an asset for trail users.

The tank must be located near the existing Cane Run pump station and so will displace a small portion of the Legacy Trail.

Rather than just sighing and accepting that a huge tank would replace some of the Bluegrass scenery along the trail, city engineers, trail designers and others considered alternatives.

They came up with a proposal, approved last week by the Urban County Council, to add a rest stop with a shaded area restrooms and water stations for trail users as part of the project. There are no such facilities, or even much shade, on the Legacy Trail now despite the fact that it runs about 10 miles from the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden downtown to the Kentucky Horse Park. Longterm plans are to create a 22-mile system linking it with the Town Branch Trail.

This smart planning to turn an engineering necessity into a recreational asset will serve Lexington residents and visitors well.