Sunday, July 11, 2004

Street project frays nerves

Twelfth Street tired of delays

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - Twelfth Street property owners have one message for state highway officials at Wednesday's meeting on a plan to widen the busy state route.

Get it done.

"Everybody involved in that project needs to buy new shoes because their shoes are worn out from dragging their feet,'' said Joe Lubbers, whose home at 12th and Lee streets would be acquired under the state plan.

"It's just a shame that it's taken so long because the traffic conditions aren't getting any better,'' he said.

The Transportation Cabinet is inviting the public to John G. Carlisle School at 910 Holman Ave. from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday to view a display of homes and businesses that will be affected by the $16 million project. Consultants will answer questions, and interested parties can express their opinions about design, access, environmental and right-of-way issues.

Plans call for 12th Street, or Ky. 1120, to be widened from two narrow lanes to four from Interstate 75 to Scott Boulevard. Doing that will require razing about 50 homes and businesses on the south side of the street. There will be a 20-foot wide median, turn lanes at major intersections and on-street parking would be maintained.

State transportation officials hope to start acquiring property by next year. Two years of construction would begin in 2007.

Since the mid-1980s, many of the tightly packed homes and commercial buildings along the route linking Covington and Newport have deteriorated while state transportation officials have debated various plans. Many residents say the delays have only increased the noise, heavy traffic and decay on the street. Residents and business owners say there's no incentive to fix up their property, and they can't sell it because of the inaction.

"We just want the project to start,'' said a frustrated Bill Clark, president of the Westside Action Coalition. "The whole neighborhood is getting very rundown because of all the delays.''

The project has the support of most 12th Street property owners and the Covington Business Council.

"I always say this has been in (the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's) six-year plan for 17 years,'' said Mayor Butch Callery.


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