Officials Discuss Possible Knee-Jerk Reaction
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
The discussion for the potential of installing locking gates for four county bridges continued today at the Edmonson County Fiscal Court meeting. While no vote was held, a range of ideas and opinions were shared among magistrates and county officials.
As of this morning, Willie Webb Road was still closed due to recent flooding. Earlier in the week, Alexander Creek, Blackgold Road, and Cedar Grove Church Road bridges were all underwater and portions of those roads were closed.
During the last fiscal court meeting, Sheriff Shane Doyle brought up the idea and shared his thoughts on being in favor of researching the possibilities for locking gates at the flooded areas. The conversation continued today with Judge Wil Cannon stating that as far as his knowledge, there was no other county or state road in KY that had a locking gate on it. Magistrate Johnny Brooks asked about the possibility of installing gates that remained unlocked. County Road Supervisor Greg Carroll said his opinion was that the barricades currently used by the county have been used all of the 19 years he's been with the road department and the recent accident was the first fatality in all those years. He read from a statement that described how the county had already closed the road and had the barricade in place at the time of the recent accident, and that the woman involved not only ignored the barricade, but chose to drive around it and into the flooded waters. He added that county road crews did not have the available manpower to monitor the gates 24/7.
Judge Cannon said he believed that the barricades were still the best option and that maybe instead of using the current barricades, which take up at least one driving lane, extending them to cover the entire roadway, which would cause someone to have to drive off-road to go around them. Magistrate Mark Meeks said he had received several calls in District 1 in favor of the locking gates. Sheriff Doyle continued his support for the locking gates by stating he realized there was no perfect solution, and that he understood locking gates could pose emergency situation problems.
"If a gate delays my response time by 5 minutes or so, yes, that would matter," he said. "But I'd rather work around a 5 minute delay than a 4-hour water rescue, and I believe a locking gate could prevent that." The Sheriff also noted that he didn't feel the manpower necessary to monitor gates would be any more than what is already necessary to monitor the barricades.
Edmonson EMS Director Keith Sanders said he didn't want the county to make a "knee-jerk reaction," which was also echoed by Supervisor Carroll and Emergency Management Director Terry Massey.
"I'd like the county to research all available options," he said. "But I'd rather work an emergency call from someone running into a gate than driving through the water."
Magistrate Edd Rich said locals are the ones that know the roads which are cut-through routes anyway. People not familiar with the flooded areas aren't likely to drive those routes anyway, as they're mainly used for cut-through roads.
EM Director Massey said he realized the gates would be a hassle, but they might save a life. He also suggested installing PVC pipes at each of the bridges that would show the water depth in the event of flooding. "We could install the pipes with reflective markers on them showing the depth of the water," he said. "If someone drives to the water and can see that it's two-foot deep, they're not likely going to continue driving through it. People drive through the water because they think they can make it. If they know they can't, this might be an option."
Judge Cannon said he'd like to continue the conversation after more cost research is conducted and officials have longer to discuss viable options. No vote was held on the matter.