The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has banned certain large trucks from traveling on Ky. 151, the two-lane road in Anderson and Franklin counties that has seen numerous accidents involving such vehicles.
The action on Friday, April 29, came after the state received emergency authorization from the Federal Highway Administration to issue the ban.
Specifically, the feds authorized the state to delete Ky. 151, also known as Graefenburg Road, from the National Truck Network on an emergency basis for safety considerations. The National Truck Network designates state highways that are approved for use by commercial truck drivers.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas said in a statement that he signed the ban Friday.
“After a deliberate review of all safety factors and recommendations, it is incumbent upon the Cabinet to take immediate action limiting the amount of truck traffic on Graefenburg Road,” Thomas said in the statement. “We have also met with local industry leaders and determined this action will have a minimal impact on their businesses. I commend our partners at FHWA for expediting the order.”
The official action allows the Cabinet to temporarily ban vehicles with trailers 53 feet long or 8½ feet wide from traveling on Ky. 151. Commercial vehicles that fall under the size limits — including box trucks, farm and construction vehicles, garbage trucks and local deliveries — are exempt from the order and may continue to travel the road.
The ban means that larger commercial trucks are now required to take exit 53A off Interstate 64 to U.S. 127 south, a four-lane highway. Access to local industry along Ky. 151 will not be affected.
Commercial vehicles have used the road as a shortcut from I-64 at exit 48 to connect with U.S. 127 in Lawrenceburg. More than 800 commercial vehicles travel Ky. 151 daily.
A group of residents who live along Ky. 151 filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court asking a judge to force the state to prohibit tractor-trailers from using a segment of the road. That suit had named the state Department of Highways and the transportation secretary as defendants.
Residents along the road have seen numerous accidents. In May 2013, a big truck ran off the road and crashed into the bedroom of a house. In 2014, a truck carrying grain alcohol ran off the road and spilled the load onto private property.
Accidents involving large trucks happened on Ky. 151 six times as often as on U.S. 127 in Anderson County during the 2010-15 reporting period, according to data collected by Kentucky State Police.
The ban approved April 29 isn’t final, so the state will continue to work with the Federal Highway Administration to secure the permanent removal of Ky. 151 from the National Truck Network. A formal notice must be posted in the Federal Register and offer a public comment period before a final petition may be submitted.
The Cabinet is notifying regional trucking associations, local governments, local industry and law enforcement of the change. Variable message boards and permanent signs will be established along U.S. 127 and I-64 to alert motorists.
Ky. 151 has been on the National Truck Network since the ratification of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. Nationwide, the network covers more than 200,000 miles of approved interstates and state highways for large-truck use.