Newport City Commission approves bicycle transportation plan for 11th Street Bridge

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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At the Newport City Commission meeting Monday, the board of commissioners passed an order to execute a bicycle transportation plan agreement with Tri-State Trails in conjunction with the city of Covington.

The order comes to the city after the tragic death of Gloria San Miguel, who was killed in a hit-and-run last August on the 11th Street Bridge while riding her bike. Since then, the local cycling community has banded together to demand action

“It was obviously a horrific incident, and it did cause some thinking and what could be done to work on the situation to mitigate this, in other words, improving both pedestrian and bicycle safety,” Newport City Manager Tom Fromme said.

He said the city would follow the lead of Tri-State Trails and the Devou Good Foundation, which will oversee design plans for the bridge.

Fromme said improving pedestrian and bicycle safety has been something the city has long wanted to improve. He said their recent efforts include implementing the multimodal lane for cyclists and pedestrians along US 27 from 11th and Monmouth Streets in Newport up to Southgate.

Chair of ReNewport, a community development nonprofit, Rachel Compte, acted as a spokesperson at the meeting on behalf of Tri-State Trails, Devou Good Foundation, ReNewport, and other advocates of cyclist safety who attended the meeting.

Compte said the project is tied to the community’s top priority for future transportation improvements in the comprehensive plan.

“We do want to say thank you,” Compte said. “This is something that’s going to be great for the community, much needed, and it’s going to move us forward to where we want to be.”

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Newport Commissioner Ken Rechtin gave a shoutout to Matt Butler, board member for the Devou Good Foundation and member of the Tri-State Trails Leadership Council, during the meeting for his help with financing the project.

Rechtin said his only “caveat” was that the city would execute as much as possible based on available financing as they worked through the process.

“Please be aware, we have some financial constraints that the city of Covington doesn’t have, and as we get to implementation, help us through the process of searching for monies to help implement,” Rechtin said.

Fromme clarified that the city does not necessarily need to apply for grants for the project.

“It’s only if it gets into a number, and I don’t know what that number may be, but it could become prohibitive for us to try to pay for that from our general fund,” Fromme said. “In all likelihood, it may not ever reach that threshold.”

He said the city has made bike trails in the past and has done work with Tri-State Trails, Devou Good, and the City of Covington on the 11th Street Bridge and said that work was relatively inexpensive to the city.

Should the city need to utilize grants for the project, Fromme said that transportation grants are always available. He added that the organizations they work with could point them to various resources as Rechtin mentioned.

The city would not be splitting costs with Covington for whatever design is drawn up; Fromme said each city would be responsible for whatever piece is built in their areas.

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Fromme said one concern that could arise during the plans is the possible elimination of city street parking.

“The city commissioners have always been very agreeable with bicycle plans and paths,” Fromme said. “It’s just really difficult, though. That’s why I’m eager to see the final product because, with the urban area with residential parking on both sides of the street, I just would like to see how that would work.”

In some Newport neighborhoods, residential parking is only available on the street.  

“If you eliminate parking, then I don’t know where the residents would park, so it’s not something you can work around,” Fromme said. “You just have to find different pathways and things like that. So that makes it a little bit more difficult. It’s not impossible, but that’s the challenge.”

As for the project’s time frame, Fromme said the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would expire at the end of the year; therefore, the design plan should be erected this year. He said there wouldn’t be an issue with offering additional time if not.

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