Gresham Smith Wins Top Prize in ACEC Kentucky’s Engineering Excellence Awards

December 2, 2020

Gresham Smith is proud to announce that it has been given the 2021 Grand Conceptor Award from ACEC Kentucky for its work to redesign Kentucky Route 9 in Campbell County. The award is the top prize in ACEC Kentucky’s annual Engineering Excellence Awards.

Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers, the City of Newport, Kentucky, attracts a variety of visitors, seeing nearly 10,000 cars per day on KY 9. Looking to provide both visitors and residents with an easier way to visit the city’s well-known attractions, such as the Newport Aquarium and Newport on the Levee, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) called on Gresham Smith to enhance connectivity between I-275 and Newport via improvements to KY 9.

“We’re proud of our work to redesign KY 9 because it has become a game-changer, improving safety and connectivity while providing a significant boost to local economic development,” said Jim Brannon, Kentucky state transportation leader at Gresham Smith. “Prior to the project, Newport’s Lowell Street was flanked by abandoned buildings, fenced-in properties and illegal dumping sites. The new multimodal roadway has revitalized the shuttered industrial corridor, spurring the adaptive reuse of many adjacent properties.”

The perfect fit for an unconventional situation, the new alignment features two multi-lane roundabouts that tie in complex geometry at critical intersections, while at the same time tying in access to the planned 25-acre Ovation mixed-use development—a major economic win for the City of Newport following the completion of KY 9. Once the development is completed, the corridor is expected to attract high volumes of pedestrian traffic. Utilizing 10-foot lanes, the roundabouts were designed to slow motorists down as they move through the roundabout. Visual cues also help reinforce the pedestrian presence and the need for a lower speed.

Before the reconstruction of KY 9, the four-lane AA Highway (KY 9) directed traffic into a maze of surface streets through a residential portion of Newport, eventually leading to KY 8 and a bridge across the Ohio River to Cincinnati. This scenario brought truck traffic into neighborhoods and led to confusion for visitors attempting to navigate many of the one-way streets on their way to riverfront attractions. The new route between the AA Highway and the waterfront area keeps trucks out of neighborhoods while maintaining access to the waterfront for local residents.

Another major component of the project was separating KY 9 from Newport’s combined sewer system, helping northern Kentucky’s Sanitation District No. 1 satisfy their Consent Decree Order with the U.S. EPA. This massive undertaking required connections to century-old brick outfalls downstream from combined sewer diversion structures, yet upstream from the flood protection gates.

“The reconstructed KY 9 provides the City of Newport with a safe, modern and efficient roadway that enhances travel for commercial vehicles, maximizes residential safety, and improves both regional and multimodal connectivity,” Brannon said.