Sunday, July 25, 2004

Newport detour headache to linger

10th St. railroad bridge work won't be done by Labor Day

By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

NEWPORT - Drivers fed up with taking alternate routes around construction of a new 10th Street railroad bridge will have to wait a bit longer.

Greg Kreutzjans, district construction engineer for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said the project is on schedule to be completed by an Oct. 19 deadline.

But many were hoping it would be done earlier.

"We were trying to get it done before Labor Day weekend, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen," Kreutzjans said.

That's when Riverfest brings more than 100,000 people to Newport's riverfront to watch the Toyota/WEBN Fireworks, scheduled for Sept. 5.

City Manager Phil Ciafardini said the road closure will present a challenge to police, who must shepherd the additional traffic into and out of the city without one of its major points of entry.

"We're still hopeful that there may be some way to utilize at least part of that road," he said.

The 800-foot section of 10th Street, which is traveled by 12,000 cars daily and provides access to I-471 and Memorial Parkway, has been closed since Apr. 19 to replace an outdated overpass.

Transportation cabinet officials set a 180-day deadline for Morehead, Ky.-based D.L. Broughler Co. to complete the $3.9 million project, which will raise the bridge by nearly 5 feet and add turn lanes onto southbound Park Street.

Access to 10th Street from the north side of Park Street will be eliminated, Kreutzjans said, and traffic on the 900 block of the one-way, southbound street will be diverted onto an alley between Park and Monroe Streets.

Residents on that block have to contend with disruption already, with pile drivers hammering steel support beams into bedrock for nearly 12 hours a day, five days a week.

"You hear this all day, 'til 6 o'clock in the night," said resident Bonnie Sanzenbacker, as a clang rang out every few seconds.

Her neighbor, Dana Gerstein, said her house shakes each time a pile driver strikes.

Gerstein said she's contacted D.L. Broughler Co. and its insurance carrier about cracks that have developed in her plaster walls, but she said they claimed the damage was weather-related.

"My big concern is, what kind of structural damage might be going on?" Gerstein said.

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