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Fairfield Avenue (KY 8) to CLOSE for 4 Weeks in Bellevue

It is expected to be a significant disruption to traffic and business.

Fairfield Avenue - the main artery through Bellevue - will be closed for roughly four weeks due to a sewer project.

When the news was announced at Wednesday night's city council meeting, there were audible gasps from the small crowd at the Callahan Center.

Fairfield Avenue, which is Bellevue's portion of Kentucky Route 8, the east-west connector that runs along the Northern Kentucky riverfront, is the city's primary business district, lined with small shops and bistros. Shutting it down at Taylor Avenue will disrupt traffic patterns for commuters and visitors, alike. 

Sanitation District 1 is working to separate a combined sewer pipe underneath Taylor Avenue, and will ultimately place two pipes, one for storm water and one for sanitation there. Last week, Bellevue City Administrator went in for a progress report on the project. "At that time, they informed me that they were going to need to close Fairfield Avenue," said Spoelker, who said he did a "double take". "We were always under the impression that they would be able to work at night or plate the Avenue."

But, SD1 found that as it was digging sixteen feet below the surface that the soil was not strong enough to support that alternative, when diggers found sand instead of clay underneath. 

At this point, the city is unsure of how it will divert traffic ahead of the closure when the project crosses Fairfield Avenue around July 10, leaving the road closed for approximately four weeks.

"We are at a point where we are going to be losing our main artery for four weeks," Spoelker told council. "We have to figure out to route cars, trucks, and buses, and we're still trying to figure that out. We do not want to take big trucks down through any of our side streets, the streets won't handle that, so we're working with the state to identify a different route."

While Riviera Drive and Donnermeyer Drive are likely targets in the re-routing, beyond those two heavily traffic streets, the options become narrower. "It starts to get ind of tight around Grandview, Taylor, etc.," Spoelker said.

The city government, however, plans to be proactive in supporting the businesses on Fairfield Avenue. "If you shop local, now is the time to shop local," Spoelker said. "We have got to keep customers coming through."

There is a general idea to program the street while it's closed, with special events and promotions to keep visitors coming to the business district during the prolonged closure. "From that standpoint, we've been given a blessing, so to speak," Spoelker said. "It's closed for us, so let's program it." That could mean pop-up beer gardens, corn hole tournaments, and other events, he said.

"We have a challenge ahead of us and we'll meet the challenge and we'll figure it out."

Other notes:
 
The city heard the first reading of its 2017-18 budget, one that paints an optimistic picture for more investment in parks and infrastructure. The rosy outlook is attributed to more than $400,000 in "additional, unanticipated revenue" that will add $60,000 in spending on park upgrades, $100,000 to add to the improvements on Taylor Avenue, $50,000 towards the new fire truck and a new dump truck, $50,000 for legal bills related to the Harbor Greene lawsuit, $100,000 to create incentives for the business district, and $45,000 for an internship program and an update to the city's comprehensive plan.
 
The budget is 4 percent higher than last year's, with a 2 percent increase for all personnel. The plan calls for an increase in police staffing to 11 full-time officers, from 10 and a half.
 
Additionally, local funds will be added to the long-awaited Lincoln Road project, and the general fund will cover the bond payment for Harbor Greene for the first time rather than relying on alternative funds.
 
There was disagreement among the council related to the personnel increase, with Councilman David Slater calling for a 4 percent increase instead. He was the lone vote against the budget in its first reading.
 
The budget is expected to be adopted at a special meeting later this month.
 
Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Fairfield Avenue at Taylor Avenue (RCN)