Friday, April 30, 1999

Fort Washington Way shutdown to scramble west-bound traffic

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A detour sign goes up Thursday near the Norwood Lateral.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        Planning to take westbound Fort Washington Way? Better pull out a map and plot your way around that stretch of downtown expressway.

        At 9 p.m. today, westbound lanes will be shut down for about four months, leaving 25,000 drivers who use the lanes daily to find another route.

        That means drivers heading from Cincinnati's northern suburbs to jobs in Northern Kentucky;

        As well as those whose vacation plans call for heading south on I-71 or to the airport;

        And drivers headed southbound on I-71 who want to link up with northbound I-75.

Alternate routes
        “I see it as a minor thing,” said Jaleh Allameh, who takes westbound Fort Washington Way to get from her Hyde Park home to Toyota in Erlanger. “I'll take 471 to 275. It won't be as scenic, but it's only for a few months.”

        There are several alternatives for commuters:

        • Interstate 275

        • Norwood Lateral (Ohio 562)

        • I-471 to I-275 in Kentucky to link with I-71-75.

        It's difficult to predict exactly how the closure will affect traffic patterns. But the last possible alternative — I-471 — may be a little crowded at first if drivers forget about the closure, said Don Gindling, the city's Fort Washington Way construction manager.

        That's what they saw last summer when lanes on Fort Washington Way were reduced and exits off the expressway were closed.

        “It wasn't that bad last summer and I don't think it will be that bad this time,” Ms. Allameh said.

        The westbound closure won't disrupt drivers coming into downtown Cincinnati from I-71. The exits in and out of downtown that are open now will stay open while westbound Fort Washington Way is closed.

        Only an I-71 entrance ramp at Dorchester Avenue, near Gilbert Avenue, will close Friday. It leads to the closed westbound Fort Washington Way lanes.

        The closing wasn't part of the original two-year construction plan. But crews need the time and space to make bridge connections at the ends of the reconfigured expressway. It will also help crews build a relocated floodwall and a new two-tiered Second Street on time, said John Deatrick, the highway project manager.

        The $146.9 million Fort Washington Way project, designed to narrow and improve safety on the highway stretching from the Brent Spence Bridge to the Lytle Tunnel, is scheduled to be done in August 2000.

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