By William Croyle
FORT MITCHELL - Ed Nordloh of Erlanger was so anxious to give his opinion on the future of Dixie Highway that he arrived at Monday's open house about 15 minutes early.
The open house, which attracted about 25 people, was held at the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission and is part of the $450,000 Dixie Highway Corridor Study.
The purpose of the study is to improve safety, traffic flow and travel time on the eight-mile, nine-city stretch of roadway in Kenton County from Pike Street in Covington to Turfway Road in Florence.
"I really have some reservations of turning four lanes of traffic to two lanes," said Nordloh. "That makes no sense to me."
Nordloh was referring to a suggestion made last month by a member of the state transportation cabinet that would reduce parts of Dixie from four lanes (two northbound and two southbound) to three lanes - one northbound, one southbound and a center turn lane.
Known as a "road diet," the purpose is to move cars making left turns out of the way of cars that want to continue driving on the highway.
Dory Montazemi, deputy executive director of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, assured Nordloh that the road diet was only one of many suggestions, but it was the kind of feedback Montazemi was looking for.
"This is the problem-identification phase of the study," said Montazemi. "We need to hear everybody and get everybody's point of view."
The study will conclude in June 2005.
Dixie Highway is the county's most-traveled road, running through Covington, Park Hills, Fort Wright, Fort Mitchell, Lakeside Park, Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Erlanger and Elsmere.
An advisory committee of county officials and representatives from the planning commission, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and the nine cities has been meeting about every three months to discuss ideas.
Data collected by TEC Engineering shows there were nearly 700 traffic accidents on Dixie from Jan. 1, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2003 - an average of more than four a week.
A video camera will be installed this week at Kenton Lands Road and Dixie in Erlanger to monitor traffic at that intersection. Of those nearly 700 accidents, 126 occurred between Kenton Lands Road and Edgewood Road - a span of about 1,000 feet.
"Hopefully we'll have enough film for the next meeting that we can show the committee and then ask them 'What should we do about it?'" said Gene Martin, project manager for TEC. "We just need to keep going on this until we find a solution."
Feedback from the open house will be presented to the advisory committee for review at the next meeting in late September. You can also give your opinions on the study at www.dixie-highway.com. A second open house will be held next spring after improvement ideas have been formulated by the committee.
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