Sunday, June 22, 2003

Turkeyfoot work slowed by weather

Construction goes on despite rain

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

The transformation of Turkeyfoot Road is clearly visible, even though recent rains have slowed the $28 million project.

"This was probably one of the worst springs in recent years," said Larry Trenkamp, branch manager of construction for the state highway department. "It's been extremely difficult to get any dirt work done."

But other work on the road has progressed, including the removal of numerous trees and the relocation of utility poles.

When the project is completed, a nearly four-mile stretch from Dudley Road in Edgewood to Bristow Road in Independence will be five lanes - two northbound, two southbound and a center turn lane.

"The new Turkeyfoot Road goes off on new alignments in a lot of places," said Carol Callan-Ramler, design engineer for the state highway department. "We're trying to eliminate the dips and curves."

The project began last spring with the first of three phases - the reconstruction of the Turkeyfoot and Narrows Road intersection in Erlanger. A new Narrows Road was built just south of the old one and opened in November.

A large culvert at Turkeyfoot and old Narrows Road was then built and is now being buried so part of the new Turkeyfoot can be constructed over it. This will eliminate the curve and steep elevation at that intersection.

"That was one of the intents of this project - getting rid of that dangerous area," said Trenkamp.

That location has been the site of numerous accidents over the years.

"When it rains or snows, our police, fire and EMS could almost send someone over there and just wait for an accident to happen," said Erlanger Mayor Marc Otto. "It's also dangerous for our emergency units to go around that curve."

The second phase, which runs from Dudley Road to Lindenwood Drive, is under way. The biggest change in that phase so far is at Turkeyfoot and Stevenson Road, where trees and a home have been removed.

When it's completed next year, Stevenson - which is on the west side of Turkeyfoot - will be aligned with Meadowlark Drive on the east side.

The third phase is scheduled to begin in early 2005. It will extend from Autumn Road to Bristow Road.

"We're in the process of buying the right of way for that phase, which affects 106 parcels," said Callan-Ramler, who said 14 homes on those parcels will be razed. "2007 would be the current estimate for that phase to be completed."

The cost for that phase is $10 million.

There will be three major changes along Turkeyfoot in the third phase.

Richardson Road on the east side of Turkeyfoot will be redesigned so that it intersects Turkeyfoot at St. Barbara Church.

Lily Drive, which intersects Turkeyfoot, will be closed at that end and turned into a cul-de-sac. Lily will then be opened at the other end to Richardson Road.

And the current intersection of Turkeyfoot, Richardson, Independence Station Road, Hunters Green, and Bristow will become a square, four-way intersection.

Callan-Ramler said traffic lights are under consideration at all of the primary intersections, though nothing has been determined yet.

As for traffic, Trenkamp said there have been some problems, but two lanes have been open most of the time.

Otto said traffic can be a "pain in the neck," but that it will all be worthwhile when the project is completed.

"It's probably the most important project right now in our city. The east side is growing faster than any part," he said. "Construction is frustrating, but it's the way to get to the future."

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