Friday, March 21, 2008

East Row: Keep Ohio commuters in Ohio

Residents of Newport's East Row Historic District would prefer to keep Ohio commuters in Ohio.

They plan to make their concerns known at a public open house of the I-471 Corridor Study next Tuesday from 4 PM-7 PM at the Disabled American Veterans National Headquarters, 3725 Alexandria Pike in Cold Spring.

Since 2006, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) has been studying the land uses and transportation networks within the nine-mile corridor to determine ways to enhance the quality of life and economic potential, and proposed solutions include the addition of a fourth lane to I-471.

A draft letter posted to an East Row message board by resident Ian Budd cites OKI's Eastern Corridor Study, which recommended routing traffic from the east side of Cincinnati to Downtown through Ohio, rather than up through Kentucky.

"It is now our understanding that recommendations are being made that are in direct contradiction with the outcome of the previous study, now placing all of the burden for Ohio's commuters on Newport, Kentucky," the letter says. "Adding a fourth lane will increase the already unacceptable level of noise, vibration and pollution to which our historic homes are subject."

Implementation of recommendations from the Eastern Corridor Study have been held up in litigation over a proposed Little Miami River bridge crossing.

The I-471 Corridor Study is being done in conjunction with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's I-471/KY 8 Interchange Modification Project, which makes the threat of a fourth lane all the more problematic.

"It will also endanger our plans for a solution to the ramps issue that would route traffic out of our neighborhood and on to route 8 through an existing ramp corridor," the letter says. "By adding a fourth lane, we risk either losing the solution we have been working towards for 20 years, or losing our homes."

The City of Newport is also on record as being against the plan.

Preliminary studies have shown that adding a fourth lane would only improve predicted future service levels from an "F" grade to "D", and the resulting increase in traffic could make the "Big Mac" Bridge obsolete, causing far more disruption to the neighborhood.

"It is grossly unfair to propose to make traffic smoother for Ohio motorists for a mere two hours a day at the permanent expense of Newport residents", the letter says.