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ICWS Installation along US 60-Bypass/KY 56 intersection atMorganfield to Activate on WED, June 13th

ICWS Installation along US 60-Bypass/KY 56 intersection atMorganfield to Activate on WED, June 13th

Bill Stephens

June 7th, 2018


The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to activate an Intersection Conflict Warning System (ICWS) at the U.S. 60-Bypass/Sam McElroy Expressway intersection with KY 56/East Main Street at Morganfield in Union County on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

The system – intended to reduce the number of crashes at the site – helps to alert motorists on all legs of the intersection that another vehicle is approaching the crossroad or preparing to pull into the intersection.

Over the years, traffic engineers have added intersection warning beacons, oversized stop signs, “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” signs and other safety measures to the intersection in an effort to drive down the crash rate. In spite of those traffic safety counter-measures that have worked well at other intersections, the U.S. 60-Bypass/KY 56 intersection has continued to have an elevated crash rate. ICWS, while still considered experimental, has been used with success at some similar sites to drive down crashes.

ICWS uses traffic sensors similar to those used to detect vehicles at traffic signals. However, instead of activating phases of a signal, they activate flashing beacons to alert other motorists that cross traffic is approaching or preparing to enter the intersection.

The ICWS will detect vehicles approaching the intersection on the U.S. 60-Bypass. That will activate a ‘Traffic Approaching When Flashing’ signal to alert vehicles attempting to enter the U.S. 60-Bypass from KY 56. The system also detects vehicles at the stop signs on KY 56 to activate a ‘Traffic Entering When Flashing’ sign to alert motorists traveling on the U.S. 60-Bypass.

Similar systems have been used in areas where roadway geometrics or obstacles block the view of approaching traffic for motorists on side roads. However, that is not an issue for the U.S. 60 Bypass/KY 56 intersection at Morganfield.

This is only the fourth ICWS system installed in Kentucky. A system installed at the intersection of KY 93 and KY 293 south of Eddyville in Lyon County has experienced only two non-injury crashes in the last year compared to eight crashes with six injuries in the year before it was activated. An ICWS was installed recently at the U.S. 431/KY 85 intersection just north of Island in McLean County and at the U.S. 45/KY 1241 intersection in southern McCracken County. It takes about two years of crash data to determine the effectiveness of the ICWS at a specific location.

According to a traffic flow study and a check of police crash reports over the last three years for the Morganfield site, the U.S. 60-Bypass/KY 56 intersection has had seven reported crashes. Four of those crashes involved injuries, with 10 total injuries and one fatality. Almost all of the reported crashes involved motorists on KY 56 pulling into the path of vehicles traveling on the U.S. 60-Bypass.

Studies of the site determined there was insufficient traffic volume to justify a traffic signal at the rural location. Traffic volume on KY 56 was also insufficient to convert the intersection to a 4-way stop. With those options ruled out, the Intersection Conflict Warning System became the next logical step.

Traffic Engineers believe the ICWS will be unusual enough to get the attention of motorists to help reduce crashes at the intersection. However, they also noted that motorists should avoid becoming totally dependent on the system.

About 5,000 vehicles travel through the intersection in an average day. This intersection is at U.S. 60-Bypass milepoint 1.203 and KY 56 milepoint 14.036 at the southeast edge of Morganfield in Union County. The ICWS signage will remain covered until the system is activated sometime around mid-morning on Wednesday, June 13th.

The KYTC District 2 traffic group recently installed more conventional warning beacons at the U.S. 60-Bypass intersection with KY 2091, which also has an elevated crash rate.

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