Law enforcement agencies are increasing patrols on a stretch of I-24 in Kentucky after a series of deadly crashes occurred in an active construction zone on the interstate.

Officers with the Kentucky State Police, Paducah Police Department, and McCracken County Sheriff’s Office are increasing patrols in a work zone between Exit 11 and the Ohio River Bridge into Illinois.

Police will be on the lookout for driving behaviors that could contribute to a crash, including speeding and distracted driving.

The increased patrols are a response to an uptick in fatal crashes in the construction zone — the latest was a six vehicle pileup on August 3 that left 62 year old California-based truck driver Olimpo J. Gonzalez dead. The pileup occurred in the westbound lanes of I-24 at mile marker 2.4 and involved three commercial vehicles and three passenger vehicles.

Another fatal pileup occurred on westbound I-24 at mile marker 3 in Kentucky on June 27. This crash involved 9 vehicles — eight passenger vehicles and one semi truck — and left a four year old girl dead.

Paducah Police Chief Brian Laird has asked the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for changes to the construction zone to make the interstate safer. These changes include dropping the speed limit and pushing back the work zone to Exit 7.

“A semi driving 65 miles an hour or driving the speed limit just before that zone, when it causes a crash, it’s going to be a fatality.So if we at least slow them down a little bit that can help with that,” Laird told local outlet WPSD.

The construction project is expected to be completed in fall 2022.

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