NEWPORT, Ky. -- There are spots along Monmouth Street in Newport where pedestrians can literally touch cars without stepping off the sidewalk. If someone trips, there's no direction to fall but into the path of oncoming cars.
That's going to change starting at 11th Street and going south under the train tracks on the west side of the street and state highway, but the work probably won't be completed until 2018 or '19.
The Ohio Kentucky Indiana Council of Governments earlier this month allocated nearly $6.3 million in federal funding for two projects along Monmouth (U.S. 27), meaning 80 percent is federal funding with a 20 percent local match.
"It's a good project," said Robert Koehler, deputy executive/transportation manager for OKI. It will have to meet federal highway standards, which tend to be tougher than state and local standards. Nearly $27.1 million in projects was approved in Northern Kentucky this round.
On Monmouth Street, $3,074,000 will improve sidewalks and lighting from 11th Street south to 16th Street, under existing railroad tracks. The sidewalks and staircases are relics of the Works Progress Administration, which built them in the late 1930s, said Bob Yoder, grant writer for SouthBank Partners.
That section of roadway is the main artery in Newport to get from the north to the south side of the city, he said.
The narrow sidewalks don't meet today's codes for safety, he said. They also abut the four-lane U.S. 27, where traffic is significant at most times of the day.
A portion of upper-level sidewalk, which has not been accessible for years, will be torn out and sidewalks widened, said Yoder. The space under that sidewalk from 11th Street to the underpass is hollow and was previously used for storage by the Transportation Cabinet. Lighting will be added to the area under the train tracks.
The second upper sidewalk between 13th and 15th streets will be improved, he said, and the existing staircase will be replaced with a ramp. The lower sidewalk likely will become a part of the roadway.
While most of the work is on the north side of the street, bus stops on the north and south sides near Carothers Road will also be improved, according to the grant.
The second grant, for $3,212,560, will improve sidewalks and move utility poles from the Carothers Road intersection to about the 19th Street intersection on the north side of U.S. 27, Yoder said.
A third phase, which was not included in this grant request, will take the project to the Southgate city limits, he said.
Currently, a car veering slightly off the road can hit a utility pole because they're very close to the street, Yoder said.
City Manager Tom Fromme said the two projects will help the city be even more walkable and safer for those using sidewalks.
Koehler said Newport submitted two requests and qualified for funding for multiple reasons, including that it was on U.S. 27.
Now that the city has been approved for funding, it will need to work with the Transportation Cabinet and OKI on developing the plans, acquiring right of ways and undergoing EPA evaluation required by law. It can take some time, Koehler said.
The projects should go out to bid next year, Yoder said.
A third project on Carothers Road, previously approved by OKI, should begin in the spring, Fromme said. That $1.4 million in federal funding will complete Carothers Road from the Firestone dealership to Monmouth Road, taking utilities underground and improving sidewalks.