Wednesday, March 03, 1999

12th St. cooperation rejected

Covington won't work with state

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — By a 3-2 vote, the Covington City Commission rejected a proposal Tuesday to work with the state in improving 12th Street.

        Commissioners Jerry Bamberger and Jim Eggemeier — who joined Commissioner Butch Callery in voting against the resolution — wondered why the city was being asked to take a stand on a state project.

        But Commissioner J.T. Spence said it was time for Covington's elected officials to take a stand after 12 years of on-again, off-again discussion.

        “I resent the fact that this plan has been placed on the city without citizen input,” the former Covington city planner said.

        Mayor Denny Bowman voted for Mr. Spence's resolution, which called for establishing a planning committee of 12th Street residents, business and property owners and city staff, to work with state transportation officials in preparing a plan to improve 12th Street.

        The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is considering four options for widening 12th Street, but it has preferred one called Alternate E. The plan calls for widening 12th Street about 57 feet to the south from the Interstate 75 exit east to Scott Boulevard, and creating a tree-lined boulevard. Homes and businesses along the south side of the street would be leveled.

        Covington City Engineer Terry Hughes has endorsed the state plan, saying it would make 12th Street “more visually travel-friendly, enhance the surrounding neighbor hoods and promote the area through the city gateway concept” used elsewhere in Covington. He said the state plan leaves room to add light-rail train tracks as part of a system that would run from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to Paramount's Kings Island in Ohio.

        Mr. Spence said he's not ready to concede that light rail should follow the 12th Street corridor.

        Citizens United to Re-Think 12th Street proposed an alternative plan, which also called for beautification and traffic improvements, but stressed that any plan should be developed jointly by community and state transportation officials.

        Mr. Eggemeier said he supports a modified state proposal to widen 12th Street east to Madison Avenue and add signalization at that intersection.

        Once the state approves a plan for the 12th Street corridor, Mr. Eggemeier said, the city needs to develop its own plan to avoid a proliferation of gas stations and fast-food restaurants along the 12th Street corridor.

        Mr. Bamberger said he has sent a letter to the transportation cabinet supporting the state's proposal.

        “I think the main question is, "Do we stop at Madison (Avenue), do we stop at Scott (Boulevard), do we stop at Greenup (Street), or do we go all the way to Newport?” he said. “That's an issue we can work with the state on.”

        Mr. Bowman said he is concerned about the loss of 52 homes and more than 100 businesses, if the state's plan is approved.

        George Hoffman, a preconstruction engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Northern Kentucky office, said a decision on the 12th Street widening should be made in four to six months.


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