Friday, April 30, 1999

2nd aquarium exit requested

Shops fear they'll be bypassed

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Several downtown business owners, concerned that Interstate 471 signs will direct people to the Newport Aquarium from just one exit, have sent a letter to the Kentucky Department of Highways requesting signs for a second exit.

        But Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini said Thursday their fears are unfounded because the plan for the aquarium includes signs directing people to the Third Street/Dave Cowens Drive (Ky. 8) exit and the Memorial Parkway/10th Street (Ky. 1120) exit.

        The letter, signed by 17 business and property owners, stated that the signees' thought only Exit 5 (Ky. 8) would be identified on I-471 as an aquarium exit.

        The letter writers said they feared massive amounts of traffic moving into the nearby Mansion Hill neighborhood and major traffic backups on I-471.

        “A better plan is to put a large brown sign at northbound I-471 before (Ky. 1120) Exit 4 that would say "Monmouth Street National Historic District and Aquarium Next 2 Exits,'” the letter said.

        The business owners also said they wanted a sign on southbound I-471, perhaps on the I-471 Daniel Carter Beard Bridge, that would read “Aquarium Next 2 Exits” before motorists got to the Ky. 8 exit.

        The letter, copies of which were sent to Gov. Paul Patton, State Rep. Jim Callahan, D-Wilder, and State Sen. Katie Stine, R-Fort Thomas, said the signs would give attention to the state's largest historic commercial district, and provide customers for the business district.

        “That exit (Ky. 1120) will be part of the signage,” Mr. Ciafardini said.

        “The state hasn't really signed off on anything yet. We must have permission from the state to locate any signs on federal or state highways.

        “... I don't feel there is a true understanding or appreciation of all that is happening and what it will take to do the job,” he said.

        Mr. Ciafardini said it will take “some time to get permanent signage up on the interstate,” but temporary signs for the Ky. 8 exit will be in place before the aquarium opens May 15.

        “The permanent signage will designate the 10th Street exit, but it will take months to get the permanent signage up,” he admitted.

        Curt Bihl, who operates Bihl Bros. jewelers on Eighth Street just off Monmouth Street, said he signed the letter because he felt the 10th Street exit had been forgotten by planners and city officials.

        “I was on a Southbank Partners committee, and we were told months ago that 10th Street would be identi fied with signage,” he said. “Now we don't hear anything except (Ky. 8).”

        Southbank Partners, a riverfront economic development group, has a sign committee meeting next week, and Mr. Ciafardini said he expected the 10th Street exit issue would be discussed.

        He said the city must “walk a tightrope when determining where the aquarium directional signage should be placed. There is a delicate balance to ensure that traffic coming from 10th Street doesn't go into the Gateway Neighborhood but continues to Monmouth Street and then south to the aquarium.”


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