COVINGTON, Ky. — The entrance ramp from Fourth Street to I-71/75 NB in Covington will be closed for good on Thursday.
The ramp was shut down early Wednesday morning, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
The closure is part of the $8.8 million project called the "Texas Turnaround."
The City of Covington said crews started the work in March. It's a state-funded plan to reduce accidents on the Brent Spence Bridge by changing where traffic from Fourth Street merges onto northbound I- 71/75.
The "Texas Turnaround" is a lane specifically designed for drivers to safely make a U-turn onto a highway.
"The Texas Turnaround is a practical, feasible and cost-effective way to increase safety in a tremendous way by giving drivers more time and more space to change lanes," Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said.
According to a press release, city officials have been working with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) for several years to finalize the project.
"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," Meyer said.
Here's a look at what the project will include:
- Re-striping 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.
The city said 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-71/75 and directing drivers to enter the highway at a location further south via a long continuous U-shaped ramp.
"Currently, a northbound driver who enters I-71/75 northbound from the Fourth Street on-ramp in Covington and wants to continue north to I-75 in Ohio has to cross multiple lanes of travel on the bridge," Chief District Engineer of KYTC's District 6 office Bob Yeager said.
Here's a look at the tentative construction schedule provided by the city:
- 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-December: 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.
When it comes to detours during the project, the city said once the northbound exit to Fifth Street is temporarily closed, drivers will have to exit at a point further south, head east, and then turn north on Main Street. According to the city, 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 said the project should be finished by early next year.
The contract was awarded to West Chester company, Sunesis Construction, in November of 2021.
Editor's Note: In an earlier publication, we erroneously reported that the closure of the 4th Street ramp started Wednesday.
'Texas turnaround' could help stop crashes on Brent Spence Bridge
Roebling Bridge expected to reopen this spring