The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet this week lifted a four-year ban on most truck traffic on U.S. 119 over Pine Mountain between Cumberland and Whitesburg in the eastern part of the state.
However, some limitations remain.
In a press release, the agency said that since March 2001 a ban has been in effect on all vehicles over 30 feet long. Since that time, the state has completed a project of extensive improvements to the two-lane, winding mountain road.
"The lanes are wider, there are truck lanes, passing lanes, wider shoulders, and new striping," said Danl Hall, Chief District Engineer, Highway District 12, which includes Letcher County. "The truck ban was a direct result of a request by the Pine Mountain Task Force. Most of the task force members are citizens of Letcher and Harlan counties. The road improvements just completed were those recommended by the task force.
The Associated Press reported that he task force was created after a tractor-trailer collided with a school bus carrying five children in September 2000. The bus driver was killed. None of the children were seriously injured. Kentucy spent $37 million to widen the winding road, adding truck lanes, passing lanes, wider shoulders and new striping.
According to the Transportation Cabinet, the new restrictions are:
-- A motor vehicle's height shall not exceed 13 feet, 6 inches; it's width, including body and load, shall not exceed 8 feet, excluding a width safety device. The length of a single unit motor vehicle, including a part of the body or load and excluding a length exclusion safety device, shall not exceed 45 feet.
-- A motor vehicle and trailer or semi-trailer combination, including a part of the body or load, and excluding a length exclusion safety device, shall not exceed 65 feet.
-- A motor bus shall not exceed a height of 11 feet, 6 inches; a width of 8 feet; and a length of 40 feet.
Hall pointed out that the order does not place this section of US 119 on the National Truck Network or allow use by increased dimension 102-inch wide trucks used by most interstate carriers.