Sunday, July 4, 2004

Ky. 16 awaits funding

Wider, straighter road overdue, locals agree

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

For a long time, people living along Ky. 16 - and those who drive the busy state route - have found it too narrow and winding.

"When you make a left-hand turn, you're taking a risk, especially in the morning and afternoon rush hours when school's in session,'' said Tracy Shworles, who manages the Lakeside apartment complex off Ky. 16, also known as Taylor Mill Road.

Local officials agree the road is dangerous.

But because of the state budget impasse, residents may have to wait a while before a proposed $70 million reconstruction project begins.

Although the speed limit is 45 mph on that section of Ky. 16, Shworles says drivers typically go 55 mph or faster on the curvy, two-lane road. That often results in rear-end collisions when traffic slows or stops, she said.

"We run radar on the road quite a bit to help slow down the traffic,'' said Taylor Mill Police Sgt. Ron Wilson.

The road is a vital artery serving Taylor Mill, Covington and Independence.

But the risks of Ky. 16's sharp curves are as obvious as the banged-up guard rail between Mill Stream Drive and Whaley Road, he said.

Business people and residents like Rose Landers, who has lived along Ky. 16 for more than 30 years, say rush-hour traffic often traps them in their driveways.

"As they build out more subdivisions... that just puts more people and more traffic out here,'' she said.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has said rebuilding Ky. 16 should be a priority.

From 1980 to 2003, Ky. 16's daily traffic counts have nearly tripled - from 10,500 to 27,800.

To smooth traffic flow, the district office of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has proposed rebuilding a 4.2-mile section of Ky. 16 from Interstate 275 to Klette Road. The reconstruction would be Ky. 16's first since its 1935 opening.

The straighter route would have two lanes in each direction and turn lanes at major intersections. But it also would take about 90 homes and businesses.

A Citizens Advisory Committee that's met since last fall also wants a landscaped median, wherever possible, and sidewalks on both sides.

Kentucky highway officials had hoped to start acquiring rights-of-way and relocating utilities for the project in July 2005, and start building the new road in three years, said Mike Bezold, acting branch manager for preconstruction for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's district office in Fort Mitchell.

But legislators' failure to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that started Thursday leaves state-funded road projects in limbo.

"We really don't know what the ultimate impact will be,'' Bezold said.

"Until the budget's passed, all we can do is speculate.''


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