E'town interchange included in national study of freight traffic

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By Sarah Bennett

The U.S. 31W interchange at Lincoln Parkway was included in a 2010 national study of major freight congested areas conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute and the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Freight Management and Operations.

The study was part of a Freight Performance Measures initiative and included 250 “freight significant highway infrastructure” locations, according to the report on the ATRI website. Most of the sites monitored were in urban areas.

“The monitored locations have been identified over several years through reviews of past research, surveys of private and public sector stakeholders and through the use of available highway speed and volume related datasets,” the report reads.

The report ranks the locations by a “congestion index” using GPS technology, and out of 250 locations, the U.S. 31W-Lincoln Parkway intersection ranks 233rd with an average speed of 55 miles per hour. Average speeds below 55 mph indicate congestion, according to the report.

The Interstate 65 at Interstate 64/Interstate 71 interchange in Louisville ranked 19th with an average speed of 45.04 mph. The Interstate 265 at I-64 interchange in Louisville ranked 139th with an average speed of 53.73 mph, and the Interstate 75 at I-64/U.S. 60 interchange in Lexington ranked 206th with an average speed of 55 mph.

Chris Jessie, spokesman for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 4, said it was surprising to see the Elizabethtown intersection on the list, especially because the 2010 study was conducted before major construction on I-65 that began in 2011.

“Those numbers would be much higher now,” Jessie said.

The ATRI report points out several of the locations included in the study will or have seen changes in congestion because of influences such as construction.

The Elizabethtown interchange is an area where major arteries meet with traffic coming north on U.S. 31W into Elizabethtown as well as traffic coming from Hodgenville, Jessie said. The intersection also is close to I-65 and Western Kentucky Parkway connections.

He pointed out the high number of industrial areas surrounding Hardin County, which also affect congestion.

This study is only relative to freight traffic, Jessie said. Commuter traffic is not taken into account at all.

Thus, he said, there might be other locations in Kentucky that have a higher total road count but were not considered in this study because of lower numbers of freight traffic.

The complete ranking of the 250 locations can be viewed on the ATRI website.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.