Thursday, July 29, 2004

Pendleton drug drive-through blocked



By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
An entrance to East 13th Street in Over-the-Rhine has been closed to traffic in an effort to curb drug traffic coming from Northern Kentucky off Interstate 471.
The Enquirer/GARY LANDERS
Call it the off-the-interstate drug drive-through.

In just minutes, people from Northern Kenrucky looking to buy illegal drugs zip over the Interstate 471 bridge, hop off in Cincinnati, buy drugs and head back.

The routine and route is all too familiar to police officers and residents of the Pendleton neighborhood. Residents have been working for more than a year to get authorities to block off an entrance to East 13th Street so drug buyers can't come off the interstate and turn directly into Pendleton.

Wednesday, police did just that.

"I hope it works,'' said Spec. Frank McGraw, neighborhood officer. "Just as long as we can make them go around the block a little bit, make them a little bit uncomfortable.''

The barricades will stay up six months, during which police, the city and the neighborhood will evaluate whether it has curbed drug purchases.

Not everyone is pleased, though.

One business on the strip, Mr. Bubbles car detailing, hopes it can convince the city to take the barricades down immediately. At the shop Wednesday afternoon, Tabatha Anderson said workers had detailed only three cars - a significant reduction from the usual, probably because of the barricades, she said.

"This is not going to stop a crackhead who wants to smoke,'' Anderson said. "We're a small business. We're the ones it's going to hurt.''

Joe Bodkin, an architect and neighborhood resident who is an organizer with the Pendleton civic association, said he and Mr. Bubbles' owner Marvin Butts discussed it. Bodkin started talking about the idea more than a year ago.

City officials had said they would erect the barriers, but Bodkin said he still was a little shocked the idea had made it through various approvals.

"We just needed to try it and see if it works,'' Bodkin said. "If it doesn't, we'll try something else.''

E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com




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