Thursday, September 02, 1999

Riverfest solution may be the bus

Construction slows fireworks access

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Downtown Cincinnati construction around Fort Washington Way and Paul Brown Stadium will make this year as tight as last year for driving and parking at Sunday's Riverfest.

        Parking spaces at Cinergy Field will fill up early. Last year, the stadium was full of football fans at the Bengals' season opener, which ended at 4 p.m. Neither the Bengals nor Reds are home this weekend.

        Downtown Cincinnati will be closed to cars at 3 p.m. this year instead of 5 p.m.

        It adds up to a good year to learn about bus transportation on either side of the river, bus officials and police say.

        Shuttle buses will drop passengers at Cinergy Field plaza and depart after the fireworks Sunday for park-and-ride locations. They are:

        • In Ohio: Western Hills Plaza, General Electric on Route 59, Raymond Walters College and Anderson Township on Route 61 near Beechmont Mall.

        • In Kentucky: Bigg's Hypermarket in Florence, Northern Kentucky University and Buttermilk Parkway at Buttermilk Crossing.

        Asked about driving downtown, Cincinnati Police Sgt. Mike Hopper quipped, “Take the bus.”

        Sallie Hilvers, a spokeswoman for Metro, said the system is adding nine buses to the park-and-ride loop in expectation of more riders. Last year, riders filled 121 buses.

        “We're expecting even more people on the bus this year because people are more confused about how to access the riverfront,” Ms. Hilvers said.

        Metro will be picking up passengers from 2 to 6 p.m. As Riverfest ends, an additional 40 buses will arrive at the Cinergy Field plaza for the return trip.

        Ms. Hilvers advises having exact change for the $3 round-trip because drivers don't make change. No coolers or lawn chairs are allowed, but folding strollers are OK.

        TANK (Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky) does not plan to add service beyond the three park-and-ride locations organized last year, said spokeswoman Gina Douthat.The restrictions are the same as on Metro, except that no strollers are allowed.

        The blue Southbank Shuttle buses, at 25 cents a ride, will take up any overflow, Ms. Douthat said. The shuttle will stop near event venues on both sides of the river.

        Police also plan to close highway ramps to make traffic flow better.

        Between 3 and 4 p.m., the Columbia Parkway ramp from Interstate 471 northbound will close, as well as the ramp from Fort Washington Way to I-471. Last year, backups to the latter ramp caused “one rear-end accident after another,” said Sgt. Hopper.

        Also, traffic on I-471 will be narrowed to two lanes on the Ohio side to slow traffic, Sgt. Hopper said. Then at some point after the fireworks have started, traffic will be stopped on I-471 as crews pick up the orange cones to clear the way for traffic leaving the event, he said.

        Fort Washington Way, between I-71 and I-75, will close between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., he said.

        The Ky. 8 exit ramps from I-471 will close at 5 p.m., said Lt. Phil Liles of the Newport Police Department.

        Kentuckians leaving the event should keep in mind that access to I-275 via Ky. 9 in Wilder is closed for construction. People will have to use I-471 to access I-275 west toward the airport.

        “When people are leaving, they should do their best to get to 471, because it will take them wherever they want to go,” Lt. Liles said.

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