Parking changes seek to alleviate Pike St. traffic jams

One consequence of the state-managed Brent Spence Bridge maintenance project: Trucks and out-of-town drivers jamming narrow City streets in search of a shortcut around the backed-up traffic.

Bridge work pushing interstate drivers onto narrow City streets 

COVINGTON, Ky. – Exasperated City of Covington officials are taking another step to mitigate traffic jams on City streets caused by out-of-town drivers seeking a way around the backed-up Brent Spence Bridge.
Having already put up barriers and signage designed to keep the drivers out of narrow neighborhood streets, Covington is temporarily moving parking off a short section of northbound Dixie Highway-Pike Street to speed drivers’ passage through that part of town.
City officials say they’re taking the step reluctantly.
“We absolutely would rather not take away any parking, or barricade off any streets,” City Manager David Johnston said. “But we’re being forced to do so to prevent even bigger disruption caused by a project that is entirely beyond our control and not of our doing.”
Starting today, the City is temporarily prohibiting on-street parking in the curb lane of northbound Dixie Highway-Pike Street from the 1200 block (at West 12th) north to Bullock Street.
Parking in the curb lane was already prohibited from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays. But too many people were leaving their parked cars in that lane during that time, Johnston said, and the  narrow existing ban didn’t address the massive traffic backups during afternoon rush hours, Johnston said.
The change will affect a couple dozen spots. The City mailed or hand-delivered notices to property owners on that stretch of street describing the temporary change and the reasons for it.
Maintaining two lanes of through traffic instead of one lane should help prevent backlogs at the sharp curve near Be Concerned: The Peoples Pantry, where Western Avenue and Montague Road intersect with Pike Street, Johnston said.
In reaction to the increased traffic, the City already had:
  • Added “No public outlet” signs at the Gray’s Peak and W. 12th Street entrances to The Views off Dixie Highway to dissuade drivers who hoped that the self-contained housing complex provided a shortcut.
  • Erected barricades blocking Dixie Highway traffic from turning onto eastbound W. 12th Street. Tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, and numerous commuters were turning onto that narrow, hilly street, jamming it for long periods of time during rush hour. 
“Neighbors told us they couldn’t get home or leave their homes because the traffic was non-stop,” Johnston said.
The traffic challenge exists because two lanes carrying Interstates 71/75 over the bridge into Ohio have been closed since early last month as part of a $36 million state-managed maintenance project.
Rather than deal with the slowdown, northbound drivers headed to Cincinnati are leaving the interstate at Kyles Lane in Fort Wright, driving north on Dixie Highway into Covington, and seeking to cut through the city’s streets.
The parking ban on Dixie Highway-Pike Street will last until Nov. 30, 2021, the anticipated completion date for the project.
Johnston said the City will continue to consider other potential steps to react to the increase traffic.
“It’s all a balancing act, and we’re trying to make the best of a bad situation,” he said.