Friday, December 03, 1999

Truck ban lifting is called risky


Officers predict I-71/75 trouble

BY SUSAN VELA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Northern Kentucky law enforcers patrolling Interstate 71/75 said Thursday that lifting a nearly 2-year-old truck ban will lead to more wrecks, traffic jams and dangerous driving conditions.

        Some officers said they wouldn't mind if the ban, officially lifted Wednesday, remained in place.

        Fort Mitchell Police Chief Steve Hensley said peril sometimes arises when trucks and cars mix in traffic. For example, he said, some drivers are known to zoom ahead of 18-wheelers and then slam on their brakes because of what looms before them.

        “Obviously, trucks won't stop on a dime,” Chief Hensley said. “If it was up to me, I would much rather keep the ban in place.

        “But we anticipated that ... it was just going to be a temporary thing. It'll be much better than when the S-curve was still present.”

        Kentucky transportation officials lifted the ban a few weeks after completion of the S-curve project in Fort Mitchell. That $21.7 million effort tempered the road angle at the Dixie Highway interchange and reconfigured it from a cloverleaf to diamond shape.

        The project, along with the Fort Washington Way project in Cincinnati and the redecking of the Brent Spence Bridge, were the reasons behind the truck ban that began April 1, 1998.

        Truck drivers have had to use the Interstate 275 loop unless they were making local deliveries or were operating recreational vehicles. Law enforcers have pulled over trucks using I-71/75 and cited those without proof that they had local stops within the I-275 loop.

        Now, “putting more trucks in that area will do nothing but increase wrecks in the area,” said Covington Police Lt. Col. Bill Dorsey, who thinks truckers have a tendency to see I-71/75 as a good stretch of highway “and perhaps they go faster than they should.”

        Early Tuesday, while the ban was still in place, a northbound truck jackknifed on I-71/75 in Covington. The driver was cited for not having proof that he was exempt from the ban. The wreck forced northbound drivers into one northbound traffic lane for nearly 12 hours.

        Kenton County Police Capt. Ed Butler isn't sure what to think of the ban's end or whether driving will become more precarious now that more trucks will be on the highway.

        “Either way, we'll do our best to make it safe,” he said. “I can only, again, defer to the wisdom of the folks in Frankfort who lifted the ban. If they've determined that it's safe ... ”

       



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