Thursday, September 25, 2003

N.Ky. repairs focus on side roads

Plans call for I-75 interchanges to be upgraded

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ERLANGER - Northern Kentucky is slated for only minor work in the proposed $1.6 billion widening of Interstate 75, a project that mainly affects Hamilton, Butler and Warren counties in southwest Ohio.

Four projects in Kenton and Boone counties are part of a corridor study conducted by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, or OKI, the Cincinnati-based regional transportation planning agency.

The work entails improvements to roads at I-75 interchanges in Northern Kentucky but include no actual construction on the heavily traveled interstate.

The projects, the focus of a sparsely attended public hearing Wednesday night at the Erlanger City Building, are:

• Extending the northbound auxiliary lane of Buttermilk Pike east to Dixie Highway "should improve the amount of time for vehicles to weave between (the two I-75) interchanges" at Buttermilk Pike, according to the study.

• Making improvements at Kyles Lane in Fort Wright, including widening Dixie Highway, which OKI said will ease congestion due to drivers making left turns from Dixie to Kyles Lane and the I-75 interchange.

• Extending Mall Road in Florence through what is now a retail site to Woodspoint Drive and Houston Road will relieve congestion generated by traffic exiting I-75 on to Burlington Pike.

• Improving Richwood Road in Boone County between Triple Crown Boulevard to U.S. 25, a stretch that includes I-75 access ramps.

OKI corridor studies manager Judi Craig said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet did not request federal dollars for any major work in relation to the I-75 widening project in Ohio.

The four Kentucky projects are designed to help ease traffic flow and improve access to the interstates but not add significant amounts of vehicles, Craig said.

Millions of state and federal dollars have been spent on I-75 in recent years in Northern Kentucky, including a massive rebuilding project in Fort Wright and Fort Mitchell that straightened out a dangerous S-curve. Given that, Kentucky officials are now focused on smaller improvement projects, she said.

"(Kentucky's) primary interests are in improving the interchanges," she said.

Fort Thomas resident Joe Schwerling was one of the few citizens who attended the two-hour hearing. He said work on the I-75 project will make for a tough commute but something needs to be done about traffic congestion.

"Obviously the expressways are so overloaded now that I-75 in multiple places backs up every night even when nothing else is going on," said Schwerling, a retired federal government bank examiner.

OKI's Oversight Committee will vote Monday afternoon on the I-75 plan. If approved, the plan will go before OKI's board of trustees for final adoption.

Once the plan's adopted, OKI will begin the process of requesting federal money for the work, Craig said.


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