I-24 Causes Delays, Accidents Elsewhere

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Barry Stevenson

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY- For fifty plus years, Rick Harned has been behind the counter of Harned's BBQ.

He greets every customer the same, "Come in and have a seat, rest yourself," he says.

In fact, many of the people there are looking for a rest, a break really from I-24.

It's customers like Rob Prewitt, who does all he can to avoid those long lines. He is a home inspector and time is money.

"That could be another job that we could be doing and it just cuts the bottom line by about a third," he said of waiting in traffic along I-24.

Lots of drivers are doing the same. And the result is more traffic and accidents elsewhere. Paducah Police Sgt. Steve Smith says traffic in the city is up and so too are wrecks. For the month of June there was a 14 percent spike, compared to that time last year. Smith says it is usually the mall that is a high collision area, now, it is the Southside of Paducah.

"Each day they're coming in to work and focusing on these areas," he said of his officers.

The McCracken County Sheriff's Department patrols I-24. Since construction began on I-24, compared to this time last year, the department has worked 2 fewer crashes.

One deputy believes it is because orange cones set along the interstate force drivers to slow down. Also, there is more law enforcement in those construction zones.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is rebuilding I-24 in McCracken and Lyon Counties. There were pot holes and some erosion, some parts of the road had not been paved since 1999. Construction is supposed to wrap up by mid- October.

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