Friday, August 24, 2001

Gridlock looms at Riverfest

Traffic may prove worse than usual

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Advice to anyone planning to attend this year's Third Federal Riverfest celebration Sept.2:

        Get there early!

        Deja vu? Yes, but traffic could be much worse this year for the annual Ohio River blast — especially in Newport.

    • What: Third Federal Riverfest.
    • When: Sunday, Sept. 2, noon until conclusion of fireworks, which begin at 9:05 p.m.
    • Where: Along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Newport and Covington.
    • Admission: Free.
    • Information: 621-9326, 749-3764,;
        The 25th renewal of Greater Cincinnati's fireworks-punctuated farewell to summer is again expected to attract as many as 500,000 people to both sides of the Ohio River. It's a day of food and entertainment, culminating in the Toyota/WEBN pyrotechnic display.

        But the traffic situation in Newport this year is especially critical because of closed streets and construction around the Newport on the Levee project in an area that always attracts a huge crowd.

        “Our biggest problem will be traffic,” Newport Police Lt. Phil Liles said during a news conference Thursday. “Getting in and out of the city that day will be a complete nightmare. We are urging people coming to Newport for the event to use shuttles whenever possible.”

        The traffic hurdles in Newport include:

        • Third Street, closed from York Street to Saratoga Street.

        • The L&N Bridge, closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

        • Continued repair work on the Interstate 471 bridge and access ramps.

        • A streetscape project on Monmouth Street that severely limits parking on the city's main thoroughfare.

        Both Metro and TANK are once again providing shuttle service to the riverfront from several locations in Ohio and Kentucky.

        Metro's Express will provide round-trip service for Riverfest from four suburban locations:

        • Anderson Township park and ride, Beechmont Mall.

        • Raymond Walters College in Blue Ash.

        • General Electric in Evendale.

        • Western Hills Plaza.

        TANK's Riverfest Run will provide round-trip service every 20-30 minutes starting at 4 p.m. from these locations:

        • Northern Kentucky University parking lot G.

        • Buttermilk Pike park-and-ride.

        • Florence Biggs store.

        Buses from NKU will drop off only in Newport, while buses from the other two locations will drop off only in Covington. Fares are $3 each way for adults and $1 each way for children 17 and under.

        TANK's Southbank Shuttle will operate the normal Newport-Covington-Cincinnati route, 10 a.m.-1 a.m., and will make an additional special-event stop at Sawyer Point's Butler Street. Shuttle fare is 50 cents.

        The event is alcohol-free. No liquid or frozen beverages or any glass, metal or aluminum containers will be permitted in any of the three cities.

        Coolers are permitted in Cincinnati and Covington, but they will be inspected. Newport does not permit coolers. Event officials stressed that there is ample food and drink on both sides of the river.

        “We will make exceptions on bringing drinks into the event for infants, the elderly and others who have special needs,” Cincinnati Police Sgt. Bruce Hoffbauer said. “But all coolers will be inspected.”

        He said about 300 Cincinnati police officers will work the riverfront and Mount Adams for crowd and traffic control, and some officers will move through the crowds looking for violations of the ban on alcoholic beverages.

        Newport's entire force of 50 officers will work the event, as will most of Covington's 100 officers.

        Other items banned in the public viewing areas on both sides of the river include umbrellas; any open-fire cooking device; generators; sofas; pets; and any type of cycle, skateboard, skate or mechanical or motorized vehicles.

        On the river, the Coast Guard and local water patrol officers will enforce boating laws, as well as special regulations set up for the Riverfest celebration, which usually draws some 2,000 boats to the river.

        Coast Guard Cmdr. Robert Bowen said a no-wake zone will be established from the Schmidt Field boat ramp, 3 miles east of downtown, to the Southern Railroad bridge, 2 miles downriver. Boats must operate at a speed slow enough so as not to produce any wake.

        The river will be closed to commercial traffic from the Interstate 275 bridge to Anderson Ferry from 4 p.m. to midnight on Sept. 2, Mr. Bowen said.

        “After the fireworks, we will have a moving picket line of boats to escort boaters at slow speed to the boundaries of the no-wake zone,” he said.

        “In the past, we've seen a lot of boaters leave the downtown are after the fireworks at full throttle, and that's very dangerous with that many boats in the water.”


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