City takes step toward two-way traffic on residential areas of Scott, Greenup

A participation board at the 2019 open house listed residents’ concerns about the existing Scott-Greenup traffic setup.

Goal: Safer, more livable neighborhoods

COVINGTON, Ky. – If streets had resumes, the current “Objective” section for Scott Boulevard and Greenup Street in downtown Covington would – much to City leaders’ chagrin – read like this: “Help drivers get to and from Cincinnati as quickly as possible.”

The two-lane streets – both designated one-way but in opposite directions – are linked as a “couplet” that carries Ky. 17, a state route, from about 20th Street north to the Roebling Suspension Bridge across the Ohio River.

But the streets slice through heavily populated residential areas filled with playing children, pedestrians, bicyclists, delivery vans, and cars maneuvering in and out of curbside parking spots.

Heavy traffic volume -- and speeding cars – aren’t compatible with neighborhood life.

So on Tuesday night, the City’s Board of Commissioners took a formal step toward protecting the neighborhoods by moving forward on a proposal to change the very nature of the streets, a strategy that – in practical terms – eventually will involve moving the Ky. 17 designation west to Madison Avenue and returning Scott and Greenup to two-way traffic between 20th and 12th streets.

The goal is to calm traffic, improve safety, expand walkability, and increase development in neighborhood business districts, and it implements a stated goal of the surrounding neighborhoods as far back as 2016.

“This has been in discussion for years,” Economic Development Director Tom West said. “Our Eastern 4 leaders asked that we take a look, and we agree there needs to be a change. A single-minded mission of moving cars as fast as possible through these residential neighborhoods totally ignores the complexity of the issue, the opportunities available, and goals related to economic vitality, pedestrian safety, neighborhood investment, and sense of community.”

The proposal approved by the Commission focused on the state route designation: The City agreed to transfer legal ownership of Madison Avenue from 20th Street to 12th Street to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), and in exchange to accept ownership of Scott and Greenup from 20th to 12th.

The vote was a necessary legal step that clears the way for the actual physical work.

City leaders praised KYTC’s willingness to take a new look at the traffic patterns and collaborate with the City on – as KYTC described it – achieving a “complete street” that is safe and accommodating for all users.

The new look

What changes are in store?

  • Both Scott and Greenup will revert to two-way traffic from 20th Street to 12th Street. Currently, Scott is one-way south and Greenup is one-way north their entire lengths. In 2022, KYTC updated its traffic counts and found that the average annual daily traffic for Scott in that area was 4,462 vehicles. For Greenup, it was 5,494 vehicles.
  • Both streets will be resurfaced, as will Madison in the affected area.
  • New signage will designate Madison as Ky. 17 from 20th to 12th.
  • To encourage traffic to slow down, traffic signals might become stop signs at some intersections.
  • Sidewalks will be rebuilt as needed at some intersections, with ADA ramps installed where they are missing.
  • Parking will not be affected.


By winter’s end, the City hopes to issue a request for proposals for the resurfacing. The goal is to have the entire project finished in 2024.


The Kentucky General Assembly allocated $2.5 million for the project during the 2022 legislative session. The projected cost has risen to $3.66 million, due to mandated signal upgrades on Madison Avenue and state requirements for an on-site project monitor. Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said the state has committed to paying that additional cost.

Public input

The changes to Scott and Greenup emanated from public discussion on the neighborhood level among leaders of the Eastern 4 neighborhood group, consisting of representatives of people living in Austinburg, Helentown, Levassor Park, and Wallace Woods.

At the group’s request, the City hired Planning and Development Services of Kenton County in 2018 to guide a study and craft a traffic plan for the north-south corridors. A draft of that plan was put before residents in March 2019 during an open house attended by about 75 people, as seen at “Residents weigh in on Greenup, Scott proposals.”

According to that draft, the plan was similar to one-way to two-way conversions that had taken place in cities like Louisville, Cincinnati, Charleston (S.C.) and others.

Not just safety

The 2019 draft plan – which nearly mirrors the changes in store – had a harsh assessment of the current traffic reality:

The current design (of Scott and Greenup) focuses heavily on movement of cars through the neighborhood as quickly as possible and “as such, this emphasis on vehicular mobility is in direct conflict with the historically walkable, community-oriented neighborhoods that exist.”

But the new setup would have benefits far beyond just increased safety.

“We’re talking about a better quality of life and quality of place,” West said. “The new setup could encourage more investment in the neighborhoods and help create walkable, bikeable environments where neighborhood businesses could flourish and homeowners would make improvements to their houses, property values would increase, and new residents would be attracted to rehab abandoned and dilapidated structures.”


# # #