A driver sits at a red light at Main Street and East Ninth Street on Monday night as the light goes green. Hopkinsville Police Chief Clayton Sumner said a state worker looked into the timing of the light at the request of the department and adjusted it so it doesn't stay red for nearly so long.

A worker with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet adjusted the timing of the Main Street stoplight at Ninth Street on Monday, and Hopkinsville Police Chief Clayton Sumner said he’s already noticing an improved traffic flow.

The chief requested the state look into the light’s timing after HPD officers set up a stationary radar and clocked more than 75 percent of drivers speeding on Main Street in the downtown area. The study came after New Era Opinion Editor Jennifer P. Brown wrote a column comparing Main Street to a speedway.

At the same time of the study, Sumner said he noticed the light stopping traffic on Main Street at East Ninth Street was staying red too long, or for about 1 minute and 40 seconds every cycle. The chief guessed it might be contributing to traffic flow problems downtown.

“If you’ve ever sat there at noon, it seems like that light stays red forever,” he previously told the New Era.

As it would turn out, Sumner and his officers were right. He said the state worker confirmed his suspicion that the light was out of sync and adjusted it so it now stays red for 40 seconds and green for 21 to 22 seconds.

“We had the guy take a look at it, and it was way off,” Sumner said. “(A minute) is a huge change, and I’ve already seen an improvement.”

Posted on the New Era’s Facebook page Tuesday morning, this report sparked a few suggestions for other lights that readers thought might need an adjustment.

“Maybe they can fix the one at the bypass by Sisk (a local car dealership) that stays red for 5 or 6 minutes,” wrote Anthony Underwood.

Others highlighted more lights downtown.

“Send that man up to 7th and Virginia (streets),” commented Brent Forguson, a statement likely referring to the state employee and one that was seconded by James Gamble.

“And the one on 9th and Virginia,” added Susan Webster.

Reached again after participating in a panel discussion about public safety, Sumner hadn’t seen all the comments.

However, he did say his department fields calls about traffic lights all the time and encouraged anyone who thinks a light might be off schedule to call HPD at 270-890-1300, but was careful to explain that HPD does not have the ability to set traffic controls.

“It’s not like I can contact state and say, ‘Hey, this light is 1 minute, 43 seconds, and I want it 1 minute,” Sumner said.

Instead, he continued, the Transportation Cabinet sets the timing of red and green lights based on traffic studies. HPD can request changes or inspections by state officials if officers notice problems with the traffic that might be related to the light.

The department does have two full-time officers devoted to traffic, Jason Barnes and Michael Atkins, and their supervisor is Sgt. Todd DeArmond. They handle wrecks and traffic studies along with a number of other responsibilities, Sumner said.

However, if someone suspects a light is not timed correctly, they can call HPD, and officers can ask the state — or whichever governing body is in charge of that specific route — to look at the light’s schedule.

Sumner also said HPD fields a number of traffic light complaints relayed to the department through city council members.

The number for the Transportation Cabinet’s Madisonville office is 270-824-7080.

Reach Eli Pace at 270-887-3235 or

(1) comment


Why did it take a KNE story for the Chief of Police to realize there was a problem with that light. It's been that way for 6 months to a year and every cop in town drives through that intersection.

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