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Is a solution finally in store for Route 8?

Written by Haley Parnell, LINKnky Media reporter

In 2018, The Kentucky Transportation Department announced that portions of Route 8 were being redesignated. In February 2019, the transportation department closed the road until further notice.

Almost three years later, the part of Old Route 8 that runs from River Road to Tower Hill Road remains closed.

The state plans to concede ownership of Route 8 because of the upkeep required to keep it functioning. They now look to pass ownership to the county or city level to get the road reopened.

“The state informed Campbell County fiscal court that they do intend to give up ownership and maintenance of the road,” Fort Thomas City Administrator Ron Dill said. “By statute, it gets offered to the county government. If they decline, then it's next offered to the local government for the option to take the road.”

Dill said the city of Fort Thomas has been working with officials from the Kentucky Department of Highways District Six as well as with neighboring communities and the utility companies that are located along the road. However, Dill said city officials do not feel that they are able to take the road in its present condition.

A 2018 report from Fort Thomas Matters stated that 27 different locations between Tower Hill and River Road had been repaired on both sides of the road.

“Any consideration by the city of Fort Thomas would have to be coupled with some offer of compensation [from the state] in order to address some of the larger issues with the road or we wouldn't consider any ownership,” Dill said.

The city of Fort Thomas is not looking to burden the local taxpayer to be able to take over the reconstruction. Instead, Dill said they have shifted funding on other projects to help fund repairs.

“We were able to reallocate some funds that we had for a potential trail along properties that the city owned along the river,” Dill said. “We were able to have that money reallocated so that we could do some engineering analysis along the corridor to help us get some answers on what it would take monetarily in order to create something manageable for the city to even consider taking over any of that roadway.”

The approach the city would take to get the road reopened would look different than on a state level. The city would not have to meet the same standards as the state would regarding road repairs, which could include things like the surface of the road and lane widths. Dill said the concept the city has considered is turning the road into a park road setting that still provides connectivity to the adjacent communities. This could mean reducing the current 35-mph speed limit and replacing portions of the road with gravel.

The residents of the area have spoken out in the past about being kept in the dark from the state on the ongoing closure. Jenny Imbus, a resident along Route 8 who has been affected by the closure, said in 2021 that she and her neighbors felt left in the dark by the state on any progress that was being made to get the road reopened.

As far as maintaining communication on the city level, Dill had this to say: 

“We've had a continuing dialogue with all the owners there. We're familiar with the owners and we have continued to keep them informed about the progress that has been made and the conversation between state, county and city.”

Not only are the residents that live along Route 8 being affected, but there are also businesses like Aquaramp Marina and multiple utility companies that operate there that are crucial in the region. The water district has two intake treatment facilities, Duke Energy has one of its major lines that run along the road and the sanitation district has a line that runs through the area. The railroad could also be impacted.

Dill said he expects a decision to be made in the first quarter of this year on what approach the city will take for Route 8. He said the city has been in contact with Northern Kentucky representatives in Frankfort to keep the conversation moving. 

“The road doesn't have to be what it was before, but it still needs to provide the same access that it did,” Dill said. “It's really about providing access for people in our community and the adjoining community to connect to each other.”