Monday, August 31, 2009

Covington's 12th Street widening set to begin

With construction bids recently awarded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC), construction is expected to begin on the 12th Street widening project in Covington.

The $34.1 million project will widen the roadway into a five-lane boulevard with new curbs, gutters and sidewalks and will place all utilities underground.

The project also will include the construction of an additional bridge over the railroad tracks, between Russell Street and Madison Avenue.

First planned in 1968, the project resurfaced again in the early 1980s; Funds for preliminary design were first allocated in 1992.

Since 2006, approximately 50 buildings have been demolished to make way for the roadway, and two historic houses have been relocated.

Still, historic preservationists, residents, and business owners have continued to complain about the widening, citing increases in noise and pollution, the loss of affordable housing stock, and the creation of a barrier that would split the neighborhoods of Eastside and Westside in two.

"We have been very diligent in our efforts to provide an efficient corridor and still preserve the historical nature of this older urban neighborhood," said Rob Hans, chief district engineer for District 6 of the KTC Department of Highways. "We believe the new roadway will provide the traveling public with ease of mobility while keeping the character of the community and neighborhood intact."

So far, $16.6 million has been spent on planning, utility relocation, and right-of-way acquisition and demolition.

Construction between Interstate 71/75 and Russell Street will begin first, with the section between Russell and Scott streets scheduled to begin in six to eight weeks.

Two lanes of traffic will be maintained during construction, which is scheduled for completion in November 2012.