Thursday, July 27, 2000

Traffic is about to improve

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        New Fifth Street and Sixth Street junctions with the reconstructed Fort Washington Way should open on schedule Friday and reduce congestion considerably.

        But the changes will come with closure or restriction of the highway itself several times today.

        Fort Washington Way will be closed in both directions for 15 minutes sometime today between 9 a.m. and noon to allow workers to hang overhead signs.

        Then, eastbound lanes of the highway will be closed entirely between approximately 10 p.m. today and 5 a.m. Friday to complete work on the new exits. Eastbound Fort Washington Way was closed Wednesday night as well.

        Also tonight, northbound traffic on Interstate 71/75 across the Brent Spence bridge will be reduced to one lane.

        But the end result should be much less traffic on the west side of the city and at the Ohio end of the bridge.

        “The west side of town should rejoice, as should Northern Kentucky,” John Deatrick, city transportation director, said Wednesday. “The two places have been a source of a lot of traffic problems, and this should clean it up considerably.”

        On Friday at 5 a.m., offi cials plan to open the widened exit from I-75 north onto Fifth Street and the reconstructed Sixth Street Viaduct — which routes traffic from U.S. 50 east onto either I-75 south or Fort Washington Way.

        “This will be the first great glimpse of the separation drivers will get through the whole project,” Mr. Deatrick said.

        The rest of the $314 million project is slated to open sometime in August. That includes the streamlined I-71/U.S. 50 trench that runs parallel with the Ohio River, a newly constructed Second Street and a reconfigured Third Street.

        Even with the new Fifth Street exit open, northbound traffic on Brent Spence will be limited to three lanes. That's because the exit to I-71 north remains restricted to a single lane.

        But all other restrictions after that split will be removed Friday morning, improving access to Fifth Street — a major exit for those heading downtown from Kentucky — and I-75 north.

        And the new viaduct should ease traffic on U.S. 50 east, which has clogged as exits have been reduced to one lane onto both highways.

        In other closure news, Plum Street closed Wednesday between Third and Fourth Streets and will remain closed until Aug. 4.

        Workers are rebuilding the intersection of Third and Plum. Those headed to Third Street should take Fourth Street to Central Avenue, and then take a left to get to Third.

I-71 lanes will ease congestion

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