Thursday, February 12, 2004

Florence trying to unite two sides

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FLORENCE - This is a city divided - at least for pedestrians.

There are no sidewalks connecting the two halves of the city, which is split by Interstate 75. But Florence officials hope that federal money will allow the city to bridge the gap.

Florence has applied for $264,195 in federal-aid transportation money to build a 3,200-foot-long sidewalk along Ky. 18 from Tanners Lane to Hopeful Church Road. The sidewalk would continue on the bridge over Interstate 75 and be separated from traffic by a barrier wall.

Florence, Northern Kentucky's second-largest city, first developed east of the interstate, then spread west.

"With the city being (split) by the interstate, there's no pedestrian facilities to get people west to east, and east to west," said Peter Glenn, project manager.

The sidewalk would allow children who live in the western part of town to walk to Florence's skatepark or aquatic center, and people who live in the eastern part of town to walk to Florence Mall.

"We have seen people on bikes, on foot, trying to get across there," said Florence Mayor Diane Whalen. "We talk about traffic and cars, but we don't have a safe way to get around any other way."

Florence's plan is to shift all travel lanes on Ky. 18 over the bridge to the north, to allow room for a 10-foot-wide sidewalk and barrier wall, Glenn said.

If the city gets the grant to build the sidewalks, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet would make the improvements on the bridge, Glenn said. No travel lanes would be lost on the bridge.

The money would come from the Federal-Aid Transportation Enhancement Program, which is administered by the state. The city would provide $52,838 in matching funds and the federal government would pay $211,357.

This is the third time the city has tried to secure the grant. To increase its odds, the city asked for $148,451 less than last year.

Boone County has also applied for $352,062 from the program to build and repair sidewalks in Burlington's historic district.


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