Residents petition for traffic light at Crawford Mtn.

Gwendolyn Holliday Staff Reporter gjoseph@civitasmedia.com

April 15, 2014

HAZARD—Nearly two years after turning left to go down Crawford Mountain Road was made illegal, business owners and residents in the Airport Gardens area of Perry County have petitioned for a traffic light to be installed at the top of the road to help make the community more accessible to the rest of the county.

Residents lost the ability to turn left off of Kentucky Highway 15 onto Crawford Mountain Road approximately two years ago when Hazard City Police Chief Minor Allen instigated the change. The intersection was thought to be the cause of a number of traffic accidents, and the most obvious solution was to remove the turn that allowed motorists to cross lanes of traffic.

According to officials from the Hazard City Police Department (HPD), previous to the change, from 2008 until Dec. 31, 2012, there were a total of 46 accidents at that intersection; 21 non-injury and 25 injury. From January of 2013 to the present date, HPD reported only seven accidents, all of which were injury related.

Though collisions in that area have decreased, residents and business owners in the area have also seen the traffic flow reduced since the intersection changed.

Sportsworld owner David Napier has been collecting signatures for a petition to ask for a traffic light in that area to allow traffic to once again make the left turn from Highway 15 onto Crawford Mountain Road. So far, Napier said he has collected close to 1,000 signatures.

Napier said he has checked to see how much the change in his driving time has affected his fuel cost since he has had to drive to Combs Road to get to his establishment.

“It cost me $73 more for one week,” Napier stated.

Napier said the reduced traffic flow has affected his business, but not as much as some of the other area businesses because most of his business is school oriented.

Ken Patula, owner of the McDonald’s on Combs Road, said he has definitely had a loss of business since the change was implemented.

“It impacted our business more than the school moving down here, when they closed the grade school,” Patula said, speaking of the closing of the Dennis Wooton Elementary School.

Patula went on to say the intersection change had a notable effect on his business.

“Closing off that access to Crawford Mountain has definitely impacted our business here down Combs Road,” Patula said.

Patula said he was aware of the petition Napier started and had signed it.

“I signed it and we gave him four or five pages of signatures on there,” Patula reported.

State Representative Fitz Steele, who represents both Perry and Harlan counties, said that he would be submitting the petition to the road design committee this week to see if a light could be installed in that area.

“If 1,500 people want it that’s what I’m going to do,” Steele said.

Steele added that the committee may not be able to install a light in that area due to its proximity to two other traffic lights.

Gwendolyn Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.