BY TANYA ALBERT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
There won't be any breaks for wide vehicles trying to squeeze through Fort Washington Way this holiday season.
Cincinnati police will spend an extra 200 hours this month watching for vehicles ignoring a ban on anything more than 7 feet wide on the three-quarters-of-a-mile stretch of the downtown expressway. Their message is simple: Break the law, get a ticket.
"There's no mercy, so to speak," said Cincinnati police Lt. Robert Hungler. "We aren't accepting any excuses."
Police caught 79 violators Tuesday and Wednesday, he said. Each driver faces at least $119 in fines. They wrote up another 10 people for speeding and other violations. One driver was going 67 mph in the 45 mph construction zone.
Police are cracking down again after construction crews started to notice trucks coming through the area in "convoys."
"It's such a short section of freeway, I guess they roll the dice," project engineer John Deatrick said.
The concern: Lanes are only 9 feet wide during the reconstruction. Any vehicles wider than 7 feet are dangerous to other drivers. In September, a tractor-trailer rig carrying
beer overturned during morning rush hour and shut down the expressway for hours. "Luckily no one was hurt," Lt. Hungler said. "We're still holding our breath."
Cincinnati also plans to ask the Ohio Department of Transportation whether it can raise the fine for violating the 7-foot-wide ban, Mr. Deatrick said. Some truck drivers are aware of the ban, but go through anyway figuring the fine as a cost of doing business, he said.
The $146.9 million Fort Washington Way project is designed to revamp the highway, which stretches from the Interstate 71 - 75 Brent Spence Bridge through the Lytle Tunnel, and make it safer. It should be complete in August 2000.