Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Grieving mother urges speed limit



By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

FORT WRIGHT - A cross marks the spot where 19-year-old Beth Wondrely was killed Feb.8 as she rounded an icy curve on Kyles Lane, striking another car head-on.

Her mother, Pat Wondrely of Fort Mitchell, pleaded Tuesday night with members of Kenton County Fiscal Court to lower the speed limit there until repairs can be made to accommodate heavy traffic expected with increased commercial development.

Kenton County commissioners voted unanimously to ask the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to reduce the speed limit on Kyle's Lane from Highland Avenue to Ky. 17, from 35 mph to 25 mph.

Although Kyles Lane is a state route, Fort Wright police are responsible for enforcing laws because its entire length runs within city limits.

"The City of Fort Wright simply does not have enough police resources ... to enforce what we see as an artificially low speed limit," said city administrator Larry Klein.

City officials disagreed with the proposal, saying it won't correct a fundamental problem with the road - a four-foot high hump that needs to be graded to improve sight lines on the curve where Wondrely died.

That work is to be done under the terms of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by developer Ralph Jump against the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission, which had turned down his proposal for a housing development off Kyle's Lane.

Under the settlement, the road will be regraded and Jump will be allowed to begin work on a long-stalled 14-home subdivision. Because the planning commission is an arm of county government, county taxpayers must pay for the work.

Jump objected to the reduced speed limit, saying that removing the hump would make it safer for vehicles exiting his proposed subdivision.

Fort Wright police, in a study conducted two weeks ago, that found 99 percent of drivers on Kyles Lane travel above the posted speed limit.

"Merely posting the speed limit will not make those 99 percent of people drive 25 miles per hour," Klein said.

"We can't have people sit there all day - it'd give people a false sense of security," he said.

Although she is unsure if lower speeds would have spared her daughter's life, Pat Wondrely is glad she became involved in efforts to reduce the posted speed limit.

She recently met Jamie Venters, a passenger in the car struck by Beth Wondrely who had written her a letter in March, to which the grieving mother couldn't respond.

"I'm glad that it gave me the impetus to pick up the phone and call Jamie," said Pat Wondrely, hugging the young woman. "God works in strange ways."




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