Saturday, March 21, 1998
Crews on smaller roads, too
Disruption likely less

BY TANYA ALBERT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Construction zone
Traffic continues at Port Union Road and Ohio 747 while heavy equipment works at replacing pipes underground.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |

Road crews won't only be found along the Tristate interstate system this construction season. They'll be scattered along Kentucky and Ohio state and county roadways, too.

But with a few exceptions, construction on local roads is not expected to cause the bottlenecks expected on such major arteries as the Brent Spence Bridge and the eastern portion of Interstate 275.

Instead, most projects will improve traffic flow with minimum disruption to traffic.

''I don't see any serious problems,'' said Ted Hubbard, chief deputy engineer for Hamilton County. ''It should just be the normal types of slowdowns associated with construction.''

In Hamilton County, engineers are hoping to reduce jams in the Fields Ertel area by installing a $1.2 million state-of-the-art computerized signal system on Fields Ertel Road, Mason Road and U.S. 22.

Traffic will be monitored on a grid, rather than just on one street as most computerized traffic lights do.

The system - the first of its type in our area - won't solve the back ups to Interstate 71 ramps during peak traffic times, but it should help traffic flow, Mr. Hubbard said.

''For our improvement to work, Interstate 71 needs to be improved,'' he said. ''But it will coordinate all the signals so if you are going down the road at 35 mph you shouldn't have to stop often.''

While this project will cause minimum disruption, motorists can expect congestion just to the north near several Warren County tourist attractions.

A widening already under way on Ohio 741 between Interstate 71 and Parkside Drive in Mason will ultimately help alleviate the heavily congested area near Kings Island.

The project, which should wrap up in November, will double the road to four lanes.

''It will make traffic flow better as the area continues to grow,'' said Kim Patton, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 8.

One lane is open in each direction, but bottlenecks are more likely when Kings Island opens, she said.

A widening from two to four lanes is also under way on Ohio 747 north of Interstate 275 between Ashley Drive and Smith Road. The project isn't expected to tie up traffic.

''The rest are just routine jobs,'' Mrs. Patton said.

In Kentucky, if motorists can survive interstate traffic back ups, they shouldn't find congestion on state highways, said Joe Kearnes, chief district engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The only state road project expected to cause minor delays is the relocation of Kentucky 9, to begin late this summer. Crews will relocate the stretch of Kentucky 9 from Interstate 275 to the four-lane section in Wilder.

''Except when you get close to I-275, we won't disrupt traffic,'' he said. ''It won't be too bad.''