Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bridge opens way for accelerated traffic: Residents



By Andrea Remke
Enquirer staff writer

NEWPORT - The 10th Street Bridge is now open for traffic, but some residents living near the city's main thoroughfare wish it would stay closed.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Highways District 6 announced the bridge opening Monday. It had been closed since the spring for repairs, frustrating some business owners but making some residents happy.

Ashley Shepherd lives in the 600 block of Monroe Street, just off the newly opened bridge.

"Yes, it's been inconvenient not to have the bridge, especially on Friday and Saturday nights - because the Levee is packed," he said. "But the downside is that we get a lot of high-speed traffic (on Monroe)."

Shepherd said many drivers don't stop at stop signs along Monroe Street, one of the only two-way streets in the area.

"Monroe gets pretty abused," he said. "It was not designed for this traffic."

Park Avenue resident Mike Bachman agreed traffic along 10th Street is heavy.

"I enjoyed (the bridge) being closed."

Bachman said traffic has been an issue for the past six years he's lived here.

"People come flying through here," he said. "I'd like to see another stop sign (going south) or some speed bumps or something ... Tenth Street is the quickest way to get to the hospital," Bachman said. "We get a lot of trucks, ambulances, and police (traffic)."

Shepherd said some residents have proposed to the city making the first block of Monroe one way between ninth and 10th streets, to eliminate traffic.

Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini said that for a number of years, officials have discussed traffic on the east side. He said that with the bridge opening, the city plans to provide better signage for exiting traffic into the city.

"We've had discussion about Monroe, whether we make it a cul-de-sac, or one way... We'll monitor the traffic and the use of Monroe and other side streets, and make adjustments accordingly."

Ciafardini said overall, the city views the opening as a "positive happening."

He said initially officials were told the closure could last up to two years.

"We're pleased with how quickly they were able to do it," he said. "(The bridge) is a vital corridor and a huge access point to bring people in the heart of the city."

Ciafardini said the business community in the area has suffered from the bridge closure.

Anthony Parrett, manager at the Monmouth Street branch of Provident Bank, said many of the bank's customers complained of the inconvenience of the closure.

"It's the quickest way to get to 471," he said. "But most of (the customers) just dealt with it, by finding another way around it."

The $3.9-million project entailed construction of 12-foot lanes in both east and westbound directions, a turning lane at Park Avenue east, and pedestrian sidewalks. The bridge also will have more vertical clearance for placement of a future railroad track, according to the transportation cabinet.

There are still unfinished aspects of the project, including curbs, sidewalks, installation of a traffic signal and asphalting. They should be completed by December.

E-mail aremke@enquirer.com




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