By William Croyle
A new $60 million, five-lane highway would cut Mike Spenlau's 25-acre farm in half, separating his home from his daughter's home, which sits on his land.
"I can look out my back window right now and watch my grandkids play basketball," said Spenlau, who has raised cows and boarded horses on the farm for 33 years. "Now I'll have to get in my car and drive over a bridge to get there."
Spenlau was one of many angry Taylor Mill residents viewing designs of what the new Ky. 16 will look like Thursday night at Scott High School.
The public hearing, hosted by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Highways, gave residents a chance to speak to members of the cabinet and fill out a survey with their comments on the design.
Mike Bezold, district design engineer for KTC, said the cabinet has been working on the project since 1996.
He said if state funding remains intact, KTC will begin purchasing homes in 2004 and start construction on the four-mile, four-year project in 2007.
Betty Saylor looked at the designs and saw the new road going through her house.
"I've lived there since '58. It's my home," she said. "It's not doing us any benefit in Taylor Mill. It's helping those south of us."
While the new road will open up access to southern Kenton County, including Independence and parts of Covington, many residents said KTC is building in the wrong direction.
"Our thought all along, if you look at Northern Kentucky, is that improvements have been made in the north-south direction all over," said Taylor Mill Mayor Mark Kreimborg, who cited recent and current projects on I-75, Dixie Highway, Turkeyfoot Road and Ky. 17.
"If we can improve Hands Pike to Richardson Road, it will open up that area east and west," he said. "This (Ky. 16) will improve access to southern Kenton County and destroy Taylor Mill."
Bezold said Kreimborg's plan was not feasible because of the difference in elevation along that route.
"There is almost a 200-foot difference in terrain along that route, said Bezold. "The fact is that right now, the predominant movement in this area is north-south. That's the biggest reason for this new road."
Many residents also complained that they felt their input was not being taken into consideration.
"They told us a year or two ago that if we don't want it, we don't have to have it," said Taylor Mill Commissioner Bob Haake. "There was enough opposition here and the district knew about it."
Bezold said the road runs through three cities (Taylor Mill, Independence and Covington) and affects Fort Wright. He said Taylor Mill was the only city that refused to work with his department.
"We've had meetings with the city and have tried to work with them, but there is no compromise from them," said Bezold.
"They haven't given us a chance," responded Kreimborg. "They haven't listened to us at all."
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