Developers herald the new Interstate 75 exit at Barnes Road as a gateway to prosperity in Grant County. Judging from the proposed $7.7 million retail development announced when the interchange opened Tuesday, they might be right.
Grant County's population grew by 50 percent during the past decade, up to nearly 25,000 now. Many of those people were looking for a suburban lifestyle, close to Cincinnati. The interchange is 30 miles south of the Ohio River - about the same distance as Mason is to the north. With the Barnes Road exit, the region now has interstate access and it should be anticipated that the area will continue to grow - and grow some more.
The Northern Kentucky developers announcing the retail project, Jim Berling, Bill Zalla and Dave Heidrich, are preparing a 75-acre site. But they envision their project soon being joined by others - big-box retailers, restaurants, strip centers and office parks. Within a few years it could be as bustling as the Houston Road area off I-75 at Florence, or the Fields-Ertel interchange near Kings Island in Warren County.
The benefits of this new gateway are obvious. In addition to the new businesses with their jobs and tax revenues that will spring up, the interchange cuts at least 15 minutes off the time it will take an ambulance to get from the interstate to St. Elizabeth Hospital's Grant County unit.
Opening the gateway is the result of more than a decade of cooperative efforts among the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Grant County Judge-Executive Darrel Link, and State Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge.
We applaud this project, but offer the cautious reminder that rapid growth often causes growing pains. The Florence and Field-Ertel areas are thriving, but they can also be traffic congestion nightmares. To be successful, growth must be controlled. The time to plan for the expected prosperity is now. No one likes to be startled by a sudden boom.
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