Chief District Engineer Mike McGregor with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Keith Damron of American Engineers, Inc. discussed the plans underway to improve three intersections in Paducah. The goal is to reduce the number of crashes at these intersections. At the intersection of 3rd Street and Jefferson Street, crash statistics show 25% of the crashes are due to side-swipes. The Cabinet plans to create a neck-down bulb out configuration which will improve a driver’s visibility at the intersection. At the intersection of 28th Street and Broadway, 34% of the crash are rear-end with 34% of the crashes at an angle. The solutions will be to change the lane patterns by restriping and adding more signage to create designated left only, through traffic, and right only lanes. The solutions for the intersection of U.S. 60 and Friedman Lane include the addition of striping to create a right turn lane off U.S. 60 and the installation of channels to designate driveways into Hancock’s. The work on these three projects is expected to be completed this year.
Regarding the I-24 exit 4 interchange improvement project, McGregor says the design is complete. The State is working to finalize agreements with utilities and purchase easements. The State already has approved the funds for the project. The project does include the addition of a multi-use sidewalk path on the north side of U.S. 60 from Coleman Road almost to James Sanders Boulevard.
Phillip Chang, M.D., chief medical officer at University of Kentucky HealthCare, made a presentation to the Paducah Board of Commissioners via Skype regarding the opioid crisis in Kentucky. In his presentation, Dr. Chang referenced a March 2018 paper he co-authored titled Opioid Safety. Dr. Chang said this is an issue in which more than a 100 Americans are dying every day from an opioid overdose. He added, “Seventy-five percent of illicit opioid use began with a straight-forward honest-to-goodness prescription from a physician like me.” In 2016, UK HealthCare created an opioid stewardship program aimed at reducing inappropriate prescriptions for opioids. The program closely looks at pain assessment and management strategies. Dr. Chang says the stewardship program is part of a comprehensive program for a community that addresses substance abuse treatment, harm reduction strategies, and overdose/misuse prevention. Dr. Chang referenced a 2016 UK HealthCare survey of prescribers and pharmacists at the institution regarding opioid prescribing. The general theme that emerged was, although providers felt opioids were overused, this overuse was largely driven by patient expectations. Dr. Chang says the opioid stewardship program has been a success at UK HealthCare with the hospital seeing a significate increase in the percentage of patients being released with no opioids. As the opioid stewardship program moves forward, Dr. Chang says the key is the education of patients, prescribers, and physicians across the state. Dr. Chang said, “It’s a slow process, and results don’t happen overnight.”
City Engineer-Public Works Director Rick Murphy updated the Paducah Board of Commissioners regarding the Ohio River at Paducah. Currently, Paducah is below 47 feet and dropping. Regarding the floodgates, Murphy says the large floodgate adjacent to the Convention Centers will be removed tomorrow in addition to a floodgate that is used by Western Rivers Boat Management. City crews also will be working on the river side of the floodwall to remove liter and organic debris. As the riverfront is cleaned, additional floodgates will be removed.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance for an agreement for technical services in an amount not to exceed $257,040 with Strand Associates, Inc. for Phase II of the Comprehensive Storm Water Master Plan project. Phase II develops a storm water program funding strategy. Some of the items included in Phase II are the development of annual operation and maintenance costs and the costs for repair and replacement of existing infrastructure, the projection of future funding needs, funding alternatives and rate options, billing system options, a rate comparison, and a storm water utility ordinance. Phase II will include a public outreach program regarding a potential storm water utility fee. Phase II is anticipated to be completed by the end of January 2019.
Since March 2017, Strand has been working with the assistance of Bacon, Farmer, Workman Engineering & Testing to complete elements of Phase I. That phase will be completed this spring with the City receiving a Master Plan report in addition to the identification of ten priority flood areas, the analysis of 30 flood mitigation alternatives, and a prioritized ranking with a cost analysis.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners approved two ordinances to change the zoning of several pieces of property on Kentucky Avenue, Clark Street, and South 31st Street. These properties total 10.3 acres and are being changed from R-2 (low and medium density residential) to B-1 (convenience and service zone). This zone change is due to proposed development in the area by the owner of the properties. There are 38 properties at the following address ranges: 3101-3230 Kentucky Avenue; 3101-3213 Clark Street; and 243-247 South 31st Street. At the February 27 Commission meeting, the Paducah Board of Commissioners unanimously approved amendments due to the proximity to Paducah Middle School. The amendments add the condition to the ordinances prohibiting retail package liquor stores, retail tobacco stores, vape or electronic cigarette shops, and any other retail establishments that sell similar products on those properties.
Before adoption of the zone change by the Paducah Board of Commissioners, the Planning Commission heard testimony on December 4 and December 18 regarding the zone change with the Planning Commission providing a positive recommendation to the City Commission based on the significant change that has occurred in that area. As described in KRS 100.213(b), the zoning can be recommended to be changed based on major changes in an area’s economic, physical, or social nature. The area surrounding these properties has seen significant change since 2011. During that year, Midtown Market saw major renovations. In 2012, construction began on the new Paducah Middle School which led to the demolition of 31 homes. Independence Bank began construction in 2013, and the Coke Plant experienced major renovations beginning in 2014.
The Paducah Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance to approve the annexation of 1740 and 1770 New Holt Road which total 3.9 acres. The property is contiguous to Paducah’s city limits. The annexation was requested by EMD Properties, LLC with plans to construct a townhome subdivision. All property annexed into the City of Paducah receives an initial zoning of R-1 Low Density Residential.