Drivers on Fourth Street wanting to head north on Interstates 71/75 will have a safer time of it with the completion of the “Texas Turnaround.”
$8.8MM realignment of Covington ramp to increase safety,
reduce accidents on Brent Spence
COVINGTON, Ky. – Work is scheduled to begin next Wednesday, March 16, on the “Texas Turnaround,” a state-funded plan to reduce accidents on the Brent Spence Bridge by changing where traffic from Fourth Street in Covington merges onto northbound Interstates 71/75.
City officials have been lobbying officials from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, or KYTC, for several years to move forward on the new traffic pattern, so-named because it is said to have originated in Texas and has been used there in a number of places.
“The Texas Turnaround is a practical, feasible, and cost-effective way to increase safety in a tremendous way by giving drivers more time and space to change lanes,” Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said. “We’re thrilled that KYTC has worked to make this a reality even as the larger discussion continues about how to increase the capacity of the crossings over the Ohio River without jeopardizing Covington’s streets and business community.”
The $8.8 million project is scheduled to be complete by Dec. 1, 2022, KYTC officials said. The contract was awarded to Sunesis Construction Co. of West Chester, Ohio, in November 2021.
Many of the rear-end crashes and sideswipes on the Brent Spence Bridge happen because drivers entering northbound at Fourth Street who wish to continue on I-75 have little more than the length of the bridge to cut across two lanes of traffic. The sudden weaving action leads to slowed traffic, quick stops, backups, and increased likelihood of rear-end collisions.
The Texas Turnaround will increase the time and space drivers have to change lanes by shutting the current ramp from Fourth Street to northbound I-71/I-75 and directing drivers to enter the highway at a location further south via a long, continuous U-shaped ramp.
That new route begins on the 4th Street ramp to southbound I-71/75, continues on the exit ramp to Pike Street/12th Street, and then circles underneath the interstate on the “inner” side of Pike Street and parallel to the current entrance to northbound 1-71/75 from Pike Street (on the north side of the current concrete pillars).
There will be no traffic signals or stop signs throughout the route.
The project will include:
- Restriping the lanes on northbound I-71/75 to provide an additional travel lane between Pike Street and the bridge.
- Rebuilding the viaduct that carries northbound traffic exiting the interstate to Covington’s Fifth Street in order to accommodate the traffic pattern running underneath.
- Upgrading traffic signals for local traffic on Pike Street.
- Safety features for pedestrians, such as crosswalks and new sidewalks, in the Pike Street area.
“Currently, a northbound driver who enters I-71/75 northbound from the 4th St. on-ramp in Covington and wants to continue north to I-75 in Ohio has to cross multiple lanes of travel – on the bridge,” said Bob Yeager, Chief District Engineer of KYTC’s District 6 office. “The new travel pattern will provide more time for drivers to safely change lanes.”
The project was recently added to KYTC’s “Driving NKY Progress” website, HERE.
The current construction timeline (depending on the weather and thus subject to change):
- 10 p.m., March 16: Closing one of the two lanes on the exit ramp from southbound I-71/75 to Pike Street.
- Early to mid-April: Closing the entrance ramp from Pike Street to northbound I-71/75 and closing the exit ramp from northbound I-71/75 to Fifth Street. These are expected to be closed for about 180 days.
- October-November: The current Fourth Street entrance ramp directly to northbound I-71/75 at the entrance of the bridge will be permanently closed to traffic toward the end of the project. It will, however, remain accessible to emergency vehicles.
Once the northbound exit to Fifth Street is temporarily closed, drivers will have to exit at a point further south (12th Street/M.L. King Boulevard), head east, and then turn north on Main Street.
Drivers on Pike Street wanting to head north on the interstate will be directed to southbound I-71/75, the Kyles Lane exit, and then the northbound entrance ramp.
KYTC officials met with emergency and Public Works officials from Covington and surrounding agencies on Monday to discuss any last-minute concerns.
“We want to make this construction as efficient as we can,” Yeager said.
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