Lexington’s Clays Mill Road closure causes traffic headaches on first day of school

·3 min read

The closure of Clays Mill Road between Lane Allen and Harrodsburg roads is causing traffic headaches for the neighborhood surrounding Lafayette High School, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts and Picadome Elementary school.

Cross streets between Lafayette Parkway and Clays Mill Road — including McCubbin, Reed and Woodbine roads — are now blocked at Clays Mill Road. That means parents dropping off students at the high school, SCAPA and Picadome are clogging up those neighborhood streets, with no way out.

The road closure took effect Wednesday.

“Why did they do this on the first day of school?” said Sharon Donohue, who lives in the neighborhood. “They didn’t tell anyone.”

Donohue was walking her dog Wednesday morning and saw confused and frustrated parents going through the construction barriers because they were trying to get out of the neighborhood. She also saw tire marks on neighbors’ lawns from parents trying to make U-turns to get back to a street that was not blocked off.

The area around the new Tates Creek High School off of Centre Parkway also experienced traffic hiccups Wednesday morning, school officials said.

Fayette County Schools Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said the school system is working to iron out those traffic issues.

“Our district team is aware of the traffic congestion near Lafayette High School and on the Tates Creek campus and we are working to make adjustments to ease those situations,” Liggins said.

Liggins asked parents to be patient.

“We are grateful to our families for your patience and regret the new traffic patterns and increased volume of first-day traffic made for a difficult morning and afternoon commute,” Liggins said. The school system was working with the city to address the road closures around Lafayette and SCAPA. The school system is also looking at adding improved signage around the Tates Creek campus, which includes the high school, middle school and elementary school, he said.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city, said the city announced the closure of Clays Mill Road from Lane Allen to Harrodsburg Road last week. It’s part of the now decade-long widening project on Clays Mill Road. The section between Lane Allen and Harrodsburg Road is the final section of that project. It is expected to be completed in 2023.

“We sent a release out last week,” Straub said. “We alerted the schools.”

Woodbine and McCubbin will likely remain closed until December, when the Clays Mill Road widening project is expected to be completed. Reed may reopen soon. An exact date is not known, Straub said.

Straub said the widening of Clays Mill Road has been a thorny project due to so many schools in that area. A section of road just south of the Lane Allen Road closure was completed this summer. That section had three schools directly on Clays Mill Road — Lexington Catholic High School, Clays Mill Elementary and Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Elementary School.

Still, Donohoe and others in the Picadome neighborhood question if the road work could have waited until the summer of 2023. Donohoe said more needs to be done to address the traffic back ups. It’s not safe, she said.

“This is normally a super congested area during drop off and pick up,” Donohoe said.

Now it’s worse.

“Some of our neighbors won’t be able to leave their house during certain times,” she said.