Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Major Highway Safety Project on Gene Snyder Freeway in Jefferson County

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, August 02, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Miranda Thacker

State, Louisville Metro officials join forces and kick off new Safety Highway Campaign

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited Jefferson County this afternoon to announce the creation of the Kentucky Department of Transportation Safety and to announce several local safety initiatives, including a $6 million project to install cable barriers on the Gene Snyder, a cooperative enforcement campaign to combine the state’s resources with Metro Louisville in a local driver safety education program.

The Governor was joined by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) officials, members of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Louisville-Metro representatives and community leaders.  

“Ten percent of Kentucky’s highway fatalities occur in Metro Louisville,” said Governor Fletcher. “There is no better place to announce our new department and these local initiatives that are designed to save lives.”

“We have all heard the tragic stories of lives lost on the Gene Snyder Freeway. By investing in safety improvements, education and enforcement we are determined to save lives,” said Governor Fletcher

By winter of 2006, the Transportation Cabinet will begin work to install cable barriers on the Gene Snyder from Interstate 71 to Interstate 65.  The anticipated completion date is mid 2007. 

“Highway safety is one of this administration’s highest priorities,” said Governor Fletcher. “By all of us working together, we will see reduced crash rates and fewer fatalities and injuries in the Commonwealth.  We share a commitment to making our highways safer and more reliable.”

The Governor also announced a Drive Smart enforcement campaign.

“Governor Fletcher and I are focused on reducing fatalities and serious injuries; this blitz demonstrates our commitment to highway safety,” said Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert.

Operation Drive Smart is focusing its efforts to reduce crashes and fatalities on seven highways over the coming weeks.  The highways included U.S. 31W (Dixie Highway), I-265 (Gene Snyder), I-64, U.S. 31E (Bardstown Road), I-65, KY 61 (Preston Highway) and I-264 (Watterson Expressway).  A reduction in fatalities on these major roads will have the highest impact on Jefferson County’s overall fatality number.

“We need to continue increasing driver safety awareness, it is a matter of protecting the public and saving lives,” stated Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary General Norman E. Arflack.  “Law enforcement officers will not hesitate to stop motorists who are speeding, not buckled up or suspected of driving under the influence.”

“Targeted Enforcement Area” signs and Drive Smart visual speed radar units will be placed along these seven highways.  These portable units are intended to remind motorists to be aware of their speed and to comply with the posted speed limit.  Additional reminders will be supplied in the form of blue lights and uniformed enforcement. 

The safety blitz involves state and local law enforcement agencies.  This blitz will focus on reducing the contributing factors involved in vehicle crashes such as speeding, improper passing, aggressive and reckless driving, and other traffic violations.  Violations relating to non-use of safety belts, children not in safety seats and expired or no liability insurance, as well as equipment violations will be strictly enforced and adjudicated.

“As police officers we see far too many collisions where a seat belt could have made a difference,” said Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert C. White.  “Every time someone gets in a vehicle without fastening their safety belt, they’re putting their lives at risk.” 

Last month Governor Fletcher signed an executive order establishing the Department of Transportation Safety within the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.  The new department will oversee Kentucky’s strategic highway safety plan, which emphasizes the effort to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on Kentucky roadways.

“Last year we had 985 fatalities on Kentucky highways,” said Commissioner Tim Hazlette. “Governor Fletcher and Secretary Nighbert have directed me to lead the new Department of Transportation Safety.  The Department will work towards finding real solutions to reduce the number of people killed on our roadways and increase safety by raising awareness through efforts like this safety campaign.”

On Kentucky’s highways, a fatality occurs every nine hours, an injury occurs every eleven minutes, and a crash occurs every four minutes.

Sen. Julie Denton (R-Louisville) said, “I want to thank the Governor and the cabinet for responding to the dangers on the Gene Snyder Freeway by moving forward with the cable barrier safety measures. This will save lives.”

Rep. Bob DeWeese (R-Louisville) stressed the importance of the combined efforts between the Governor, Transportation Cabinet, Justice Cabinet and Louisville Metro.  “We spend millions of dollars making our roads safer for those who travel them and the installation of the cable barriers addresses the human element contribution to safety.”

Rep. Ron Crimm (R-Louisville) said, “With the growing number of fatalities occurring in Louisville, this Governor is applying resources to educate our Kentucky drivers about highway safety and spending the money necessary to make our roads safer. I am confident the cable barriers and safety highway initiatives will make a difference.”