The Bullitt County History Museum

Bullitt County's Traffic Lights

The following article by David Strange was originally published on 3 Apr 2016.

I vaguely remember a time when there were only three traffic lights in all of Bullitt County. Charlie Long tells me that the first was a simple red-only flashing stop light in Shepherdsville at Highway 44 and Highway 61 in the heart of town. Shortly after that came a similar light in Mt. Washington at 44 and the old Bardstown Road that flashed red in one direction and yellow in the other. Steve Masden tells me that the yellow flashing light in Lebanon Junction has been there since at least the mid-1950's.

Ah, but how times have changed.

When I was a child in the 1950's and 60's, the population of Bullitt County was a sleepy 15,000. Today it is a bustling, industrious county of nearly 80,000.

But for some reason, I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting in the back of my Dad's 1958 black Chevy station wagon and watching that single flashing red light hanging in the center of Shepherdsville. I think of it often as I drive along the busy roads of today.

On a whim, sometime in the 1990's if I recall correctly, I drove around the county and counted all the traffic signals then in place. If memory serves, I counted 86 individual signals at about a dozen locations. I did that again this month and counted 300 signals at 34 locations.

Three Hundred. What a change in old Bullitt County. 300 lights, not counting railroad signals or school lights, with more lights coming. That need is especially understandable on roads such as Highway 44 which carries over 100,000 cars a day on a road not much wider in places than when it was gravel.

Bob Cline tells me that early versions of traffic lights were designed with a simple two-bulb arrangement, with a red lens at the top in one direction and green in the other, and the reverse below that. One light bulb at the top would come on, lighting both a red and a green, and then switch to the lower bulb, that did the opposite. But people who were color-blind could not see which was which, so traffic lights evolved into the red-on-top, red-yellow-green standard that is familiar to us all today.

By the way, did you know that Garrett Morgan, who invented the three-position traffic signal, was from Paris, Kentucky? He also invented the gas mask.

Thank goodness for traffic lights. Though they can drive us crazy, they have prevented a lot of accidents, and even some fights. I'll tell you something about traffic fights next week.

Meanwhile, for what it's worth, here is a list of the results of my personal traffic-light study of Bullitt County.

Traffic Lights in Bullitt County March 2016
(Not counting railroad warning lights, school lights, etc.)

Mt. Washington before lights

Mt. Washington with lights

Mt. Washington By-pass
Preston (Highway 61)
Bullitt/Jefferson Line to Lebanon Junction:
Hillview Woods Parkway10
Hillview Blvd.10
Old Preston Highway10
Tanyard Springs10
Summit Drive10
Zoneton Fire Dept6
John Harper13
Hebron Lane10
Highway 4412
Second Street (Shepherdsville)8
Oak Street, Lebanon Junction (flashing yellow)8
Then there are these:
Burkland Blvd & Old Hwy 614
John Harper and Blue Lick12
North I65 Brooks Ramp8
South I65 Brooks Ramp8
Brooks Hill Road & East Blue Lick8
Brooks Hill Road & 1020 (flashing red)8
Hwy 245 ramp at I658
Hwy 480 (Cedar Grove Road) I65 South10
Hwy 480 (Cedar Grove Road) I65 North9
Hwy 480 (Cedar Grove Road) at Omega Pkwy11
Hwy 44 & Hester St10
Hwy 44 & Adam Shepherd Pkwy12
Hwy 44 & I65 west (south) ramp8
Hwy 44 & I65 east (north) ramp6
Hwy 44 & Armstrong Lane10
Hwy 44 & Branham (flashing yellow)4
Hwy 44 & North (Old) Bardstown Road8
Hwy 44 & 31E (Mt. Washington Bypass)13
31E (Mt. Washington Bypass) & North Bardstown Road8
Bardstown Road & Oakbrooke Drive10
North Bardstown Road & East Lakeview6
North Bardstown Road & Meadowview8
North Bardstown Road & Evans Lane (flashing yellow)4

Copyright 2016 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 08 Sep 2018 . Page URL: