A long-time res­i­dent of Boone Avenue recent­ly com­ment­ed that he had noticed a diminu­tion of heavy truck, i.e. semi-trail­er truck, traf­fic along his sec­tion of the street, an occur­rence for which he was quite grateful.

The inquiry to him was ini­ti­at­ed by the appear­ance of a mobile, bat­tery-oper­at­ed, illu­mi­nat­ed sign that had been placed near the “Welcome to Winchester” sign on high­way 627, just south of Boonesboro Plaza.  The new sign directs heavy truck traf­fic to uti­lize high­way 1958, the Bypass, rather than tra­vers­ing down­town Winchester.

This is as it should be (and actu­al­ly has been for a very long time, though not always heav­i­ly enforced) because the streets com­ing into the down­town area are not designed for such heavy truck traffic.

While the sur­faces of the streets may very well be capa­ble of sup­port­ing the weight of such trucks, many of the turns required from street to street pose sig­nif­i­cant imped­i­ments to these trucks.  A case in point is the inter­sec­tion of Maple with Boone.  Trucks attempt­ing to turn south onto Boone from Maple encounter a very sharp turn which is made even more dif­fi­cult by the close prox­im­i­ty of cars wait­ing to turn from Boone north onto Maple.  Often wait­ing cars will have to back up in order to pro­vide the nec­es­sary turn­ing radius for the big trucks and this becomes a near impos­si­bil­i­ty if there are cars behind the one at the front.

Many times in the past there seemed to be increased enforce­ment in the area, stop­ping trucks that have been observed com­ing all the way through town instead of uti­liz­ing the Bypass.  These efforts came from both Kentucky State Police and local law enforce­ment.  The large trucks are per­mit­ted into the down­town area if they are mak­ing deliv­er­ies there, but trucks sim­ply pass­ing through from north to south or vice ver­sa must be rout­ed along high­way 1958.

Even when these vehi­cles use the intend­ed route, the bypass, they con­tin­ue to cre­ate prob­lems that are appar­ent to every­one else who trav­els along that highway.

When these large vehi­cles stop and start at traf­fic lights, they cre­ate “rip­ples” in the pave­ment.  This hap­pens on the macadam — what most peo­ple refer to as black­top — a non-homo­ge­neous mate­r­i­al that gives way under the weight and force of start-stop move­ment and is ampli­fied by the large trucks.

The mate­r­i­al which can ade­quate­ly resist these forces is prop­er­ly rein­forced-and-placed con­crete and it’s a mys­tery why the Kentucky Department of Transportation has not required this type of pave­ment at inter­sec­tions where heavy truck stop-and-go traf­fic is anticipated. 

The inter­sec­tions of the bypass with Fulton, Redwing, Pedro, and Colby all demon­strate quite graph­i­cal­ly the dam­age that heavy trucks do to the pave­ment.  Driving through those inter­sec­tions is almost like dri­ving along a rail­road track because of the rip­ples on the surface.

Unfortunately, con­crete inter­sec­tions, when not prop­er­ly installed, begin to dete­ri­o­rate too quick­ly and cre­ate haz­ards them­selves through crack­ing and pot­holes, such as at the Bypass Road/627 intersection.

However, few­er heavy trucks cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing along Boone Avenue and through the down­town will be ben­e­fi­cial to every­one here, make our streets less dan­ger­ous, and will allow those streets to remain ser­vice­able for longer peri­ods of time.

We hope that the increased enforce­ment will con­tin­ue and that word will even­tu­al­ly cir­cu­late among the truck­ing indus­try that heavy trucks will be expect­ed to uti­lize the appro­pri­ate routes here.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.