Kentucky Selects Team for Highway Safety Project

A design-build team has been selected to manage a $9.5 million project aimed at reducing and eliminating wrong-way crashes on select highway corridors across Kentucky.

[Above photo by the Kentucky Governor’s Office]

Stansell Electric is the prime contractor and Parsons Engineering is the lead designer on a team that will collaborate with state transportation officials to create a pilot project this summer to test new wrong-way crash prevention systems along five highway on/off ramps on I-75 in Fayette County before deploying to other locations starting this fall.

“Wrong-way driving is a major safety issue that can lead to devastating consequences,” said Governor Andy Beshear (D) in a statement. “This work will help us keep more Kentucky families safe on our roadways.” 

Jim Gray. Photo by the KYTC.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is overseeing this project, which is partially funded by a $5.14 million federal grant along with a state match.  

“Improving highway safety is a core focus of this administration, and we’re pleased to pilot the latest in technological advancements to help prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roadways,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray.

“While innovative solutions can be part of the answer to curbing these incidents, it can never replace the need for drivers to make safe driving decisions, like never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” he added.

KYTC noted that this wrong-way crash prevention system will also be integrated with existing intelligent transportation systems to monitor and detect other safety concerns related to pedestrians, debris, and halted vehicles on the roadway. 

“Roadway infrastructure improvements are part of a comprehensive effort to curb these tragic events,” said Gray. “In addition to implementing this new technological system, we’ll continue researching statewide opportunities to address wrong-way crashes, such as striping and signage. While our existing signage and markings meet federal requirements, we’re looking at how to enhance visibility and uniformity at every off-ramp.”

State departments of transportation across the country have been working with a variety of systems designed to prevent wrong-way crashes.

In 2023, the Utah Department of Transportation installed 15 wrong-way driving detection systems statewide with another eight in the planning stages.

The agency said its new wrong-way driver detection and alert systems consist of a detector unit, which includes a radar and high definition/infrared cameras, and a series of red “Wrong Way” warning signs equipped with solar-powered, high-intensity light emitting diode or LED lights.

Concurrently, the Nevada Department of Transportation substantially completed installation of wrong-way driver detection systems on I-580, known as the Carson City Freeway, in September 2023. The agency has been installing such technology on selected highways statewide since 2019.

In June 2023, Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed into law a measure passed by the state legislature directing the Connecticut Department of Transportation to install wrong-way driving alert systems on at least 120 additional highway exit ramps statewide – ramps identified by the agency as at “high-risk” for wrong-way driving incidents.

Connecticut DOT has been installing wrong-way driving detection technology on state highway exit ramps over the last three years and continues to expand its use statewide.

In July 2022, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation began pilot testing a wrong way detection and alert system on six ramps along I-40 in the eastern part of the state. Using thermal cameras, the system identifies when a vehicle enters an exit ramp in the wrong direction and displays flashing lights on already posted Wrong Way signs to increase noticeability.

The Arizona Department of Transportation deployed a first-in-the-nation thermal-camera wrong-way vehicle alert system in the Phoenix area in 2017 – a system that received a national award in 2018. The agency is also enhancing and expanding its wrong-way driver detection system to other highway corridors statewide.

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