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New roads provide new perspective about our travel

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Column by Ben Sheroan, editor

By Ben Sheroan

In the 12 years since my mother’s death, I’ve probably driven by the old home place less than a dozen times.

For a while, it seemed necessary to avoid that stretch of Ky. 1500 between Vine Grove and Fort Knox. But time eases the pain and warm memories eventually won out over grief and loneliness.

On Memorial Day, a trip along the route felt appropriate. It also would provide a look at the new access road leading to Bullion Boulevard at Fort Knox.

So turning off Joe Prather Highway, I headed to see what had changed.

Here in the middle of the area where I spent the first 20-some years of my life and learned to drive, I missed the turnoff to my parents’ place. I didn’t know you had to turn.

When new roads take us to familiar places, the effect can be disorienting.

The new stretch of Ky. 1500 crosses roads that have existed for generations. But seeing them from a new perspective is confusing.

For example, my mind placed Safari Trail and Red Hill Road in distinctly different corners of the community. But as the crow flies and the new road goes, the streets are nearly side by side.

A similar impact occurred on the first trip last week along Patriot Parkway, the new Ky. 361 connecting Elizabethtown and Radcliff. On the way to my in-laws’ house in Vine Grove, the new traffic signal at Ky. 220 was like discovering a parallel universe. Everything was familiar but at the same time nothing looked the same.

These roads and the extension of Ky. 313 into Meade County eventually will fit into the local geographic imprint in the mind’s eye but will we ever get used to the time savings? These state-funded blacktop gifts forever will change motorists’ habits and ease traffic backups on U.S. 31W.

Local road networks have changed a great deal in 50 years.

As a boy, the road in front of my grandfather’s house was a dusty gravel lane. Most every car that passed on a Sunday afternoon was driven by a familiar face.

If you were sitting on the porch or under the shade tree after lunch, they all would wave and about half stopped in the road and shouted a few pleasantries before continuing on their way.

In those days when my folks needed to go to Radcliff, they would drive along that gravel road to hit Hill Street and follow its curves and twists before eventually coming out on Dixie next to the Blue Steer. It was the best way to go.

Now the road to Fort Knox where I grew up is a bypassed spur. The new 1500 passes through what was once a neglected woods where my gang of teenage boys slept around a campfire and fired bottle rockets into the night sky.

The new highway has none of the high-banked curves or blind spots of the road it replaces. It has some nice open stretches but no massive hill such as the one leading into Oldham Flats where some people have raced motorcycles on quiet evenings.

The new roads take us to our destination quicker. Along the way, we may miss a few experiences.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com. 

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.