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. 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 Kentucky Route 9. The subsequent reconstruction of KY 9 has become a game-changer, improving safety and connectivity while providing a significant boost to local economic development.
miles of corridor improvement
foot lanes to enhance safety
Breathing New Life Into the CorridorPrior 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. A new distillery and several new businesses are among the newcomers to the south section of KY 9.
A Creative Use of RoundaboutsThe 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 Ovation mixed-use development—a major economic win for the City of Newport following the completion of KY 9.
The Need for Lower SpeedOnce the 25-acre Ovation development is completed (which will feature 900 residential units, restaurants, a concert venue, retail, hotels and offices), 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 traffic circle. Visual cues also help reinforce the pedestrian presence and the need for a lower speed.
Goodbye Truck Traffic!Before the reconstruction of KY 9, the four-lane AA highway 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.
A Solid ChoiceAlthough concrete pavement is not typically used on non-interstate projects in Kentucky, we decided it was appropriate for the project as it eliminates what is known as the “longitudinal seam” between asphalt and the concrete gutter pan in the bike lanes. Moreover, it eliminates the need for future resurfacing projects through the complex elevation transitions within the roundabouts.
Separating KY 9 from Newport’s CSSEarly in the project, we utilized our in-house utility coordination team to remove KY 9 from the city’s combined sewer system (CSS), 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. Connecting the new storm-sewer pipe to a fragile brick sewer 20-feet-deep in the ground required careful excavation and shoring.
Safe, Modern & EfficientCompleted in late 2018, 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.
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