DOT to investigate dangerous stretch of Hwy 11
By Bobbie Poynter
A particularly dangerous stretch of highway at the entrance to Pope Hollow Road on South KY 11 in Barbourville has claimed even more victims.
On Sunday, Feb. 1, prominent Barbourville attorney Paul Baker and his daughter were traveling north of S. KY 11 when their vehicle was struck by a another vehicle heading south and sliding into their lane on the wet road. Baker swerved in an attempt to avoid the collision, but was unable to do so and was struck in the driver side doors, causing his vehicle to leave the roadway and strike a fire hydrant with his passenger side front door. Baker’s vehicle had to be towed.
This makes the fourth recorded crash at that intersection since the first of the year.
There have been more than 30 recorded crashes at that intersection in only two years. A great number more have gone unrecorded due to a lack of injuries or other vehicles involved. Tragically, two fatalities have also been recorded, one on April 7, 2009, in a head-on collision, and another single vehicle crash fatality on May 29, 2012.
Barbourville Mayor David Thompson has witnessed a large majority of the crashes and has been aware of many others due to the fact that his home is located directly in the path of vehicles that have lose traction coming around the curve.
“I’ve had cars upside down in my driveway, others that have hit the porch and still others that came to rest against a tree on the side of my house,” said Mayor Thompson. “I’m not worried about the cars. I’m more concerned about the people.”
The mayor was at home during each of the two fatality crashes.
“I would rather have not been the first person to come up and see the tragedies that had occurred,” said Thompson. But, I had no choice. I had to see if I could help. I’d be happy if I were never put into that position again.”
About two years ago, the Barbourville Street Department and the Kentucky Department of Transportation removed all the trees along the curve at Pope Hollow, believing that the sap from the trees was making the road slick. Apparently, that was not the case because the number of crashes continued to pile up.
“Anytime it’s raining, you know there’s going to be an accident on that curve,” said the mayor. “We’ve had a rainy winter and a lot of cars have ended upside down in front of my house. It’s time we get something done. We don’t need another fatality before we get it fixed.”
Sherri Chappell, Chief District Engineer of the Kentucky Department of Transportation, has been made aware of the problem, and after speaking with Mayor Thompson Tuesday, has agreed to send a DOT representative down this week to assess the situation.
“She was very receptive,” said Thompson of his discussion with Chappell. She realized it needed to be done. She was genuinely concerned about correcting the problem once and for all.”
Mayor Thompson is confident that DOT will come in and fix the problem.
“When I was first elected mayor, we had a fatality in front of the new high school. I was really impressed when the highway department quickly stepped in and put up a stoplight at the intersection. I remember being told by DOT that the light wouldn’t stop the fender benders, but it should help prevent any more fatalities.
I feel strongly that DOT will take care of this just like they did then. I see a cure very soon.”