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New bypass seeing traffic before opening

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Citations could be issued to drivers on unopened road

By Geoff Hamill

 

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it could land some drivers in trouble with police, and even facing citations.
Chad Filiatreau, transportation engineering supervisor with the Kentucky Department of Transportation, said driving on closed roads, such as the new Springfield Northwest Bypass, is dangerous, as well as illegal.

“The new bypass is not fully functional. All of the guardrails are not complete, and the road is not receiving any salt, and somebody could potentially get out there and cause an accident, even though nobody else might not be involved,” Filiatreau said.
He added that the control of the closed road is somewhat of a gray area because the property is still technically private, even though it is owned by the state. Filiatreau said his office has encouraged local law enforcement officials to write citations for violators traveling on the road, but that was not an option in the beginning because the signs posted were temporary.
“They couldn’t write tickets when we had the temporary signs, but now the road is permanently marked, and we feel tickets should be able to be written,” he added.
Trooper Billy Gregory, public affairs officer with the Kentucky State Police Post 15 in Columbia, said there are no laws that specifically apply to driving on closed roads, but he added that citations could be written to violators for disregarding traffic control devices.
“If it’s posted by the state or a local agency, that means don’t operate a vehicle on that road, and that’s where we’d start issuing citations,” Gregory said. “It can be a stop light, a one-way sign, or a closed road sign, but it would be a violation, and drivers could receive a citation.”
It’s not just a matter of avoiding a citation, according to Filiatreau, but also a case of danger for workers trying to complete the new road.
“The road is closed to the traveling public, not only for their safety,  but for the safety of the men working out there,” he said. “The safety of the construction workers out there performing a job is a big concern. They are not expecting vehicular traffic, and cars are coming through there at 50 or 60 miles per hour at times. We’ve had a couple of close calls. One gentleman walked around the side of a truck and somebody zoomed by him. It’s dangerous.”
Washington County’s new road is not unique when it comes to illegal traffic. Filiatreau said it generally happens on most locations, and his department works hard to keep a check on barrels and barricades to eliminate traffic before the roads are completed.
Filiatreau said the new bypass should be completed in May.