OKI assesses I-471 improvements

The Interstate 471 Corridor Study, led by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), held an open house meeting Oct. 26 to get the public’s insight into the goals and problems that the first phase of the project will analyze.

The I-471 Corridor refers to the nine miles of highway from the Ohio River, past Northern Kentucky University on U.S. 27 to its intersection with the AA Highway. Phase I of the study will provide an assessment and plan for transportation improvements, addressing safety, congestion and air quality issues and will last through May 2007.

“People are interested in transportation solutions because it affects their daily lives,” said Bob Koehler, the project’s manager and OKI deputy executive director. “Our goal tonight was to make sure we did our best to inform the public that the study’s just getting under way and get them to let us know if we hit the mark, or missed it, in terms of the goals. Finally, we wanted to find out if there are existing conditions we should be aware of that we haven’t recognized and have people mark those problematic areas on the maps.”

NKU, which is part of the project advisory team, falls along the I-471 Corridor. Its traffic volume, combined with a dense row of traffic signals, bogs down the stop-and-go stretch of U.S. 27, south of I-471, that is traveled by 40,000 to 70,000 vehicles per day, according to Koehler.

NKU’s Bank of Kentucky Center, when completed, is predicted to make this already crowded thoroughfare worse. Koehler, however, expects many events will take place at night and said it might not be too problematic.

“Fortunately, it probably won’t affect the peak hour traffic as much as some might be fearful that it will,” he said.

Though many events will likely be held outside the rush hours, the limited exit routes would likely still be strained by the simultaneous departure of thousands from an event on campus.

“We know that the event center will be a major challenge for us,” Koehler said. “But it can be done. Signal timing can be modified and some other things set up to handle event-style traffic. It will be a challenge for sure.”

After public input and technical analyses, the project team will formulate alternative solutions and draft recommendations in the completion of Phase I of the study, due May 2007.

A second open house meeting will be held at that time to get public input on the recommendations and strategic plan. Phase II, the I-471 Interchange Modification Study, will follow and run through March 2008.

The project team encourages anyone who did not attend the open house, but wishes to voice his opinion, to visit www.471study.org to get information and provide input throughout the study.