Boone County, Kentucky has had a growing population in the past three decades, and it’s easy to see why. Being in the middle of three major interstate systems and being home to the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, it’s no wonder why Boone County has seen an increase in residents. However, as more people populate the area, both vehicular and non-vehicular traffic increases, leading to KY 237 needing improvements.
KY 237 is a major roadway in Boone County, connecting neighborhoods and businesses. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet saw that a 5.2-mile stretch of the roadway needed to be transformed to be able to handle the growing population and traffic, effectively reducing congestion, reconnecting neighborhoods, and accommodating alternative modes of transportation. The team at Gresham Smith did just that, transforming the old KY 237 into a modern five-lane urban roadway with pedestrian and bicycle access. The new roadway features new curbs and gutters, storm sewers, culvert extensions, bridges, retaining walls, detention areas, and detailed erosion-control plans.
Delivering the project in three phases, community outreach was a must. Gresham Smith held multiple public meetings to get the communities input, having over 300 attendees and engaging in one-on-one conversations with property owners to ensure priorities in the project were met. Seeing as how KY 237 touches more than 180 residential and commercial properties, public outreach was a must to ensure the success of the project.
The first phase of the project began on the south end of the corridor. The design solution called for widening the existing roadway to five-lanes, adding multi-use paths on both sides. Seeing as how Gunpowder Creek bordered on one side, and a church on the other, Gresham Smith used retaining walls along the multi-path, limiting the impacts on the church.
The second phase needed to address the intersection of KY 237 and KY 18. Using traffic data, they saw that KY 237 needed three left turn lanes onto KY 18 to accommodate turning vehicles. In the end, they recommended a single point urban interchange (SPUI) instead. The SPUI brings all turning traffic to one elevated signalized intersection and allows non-turning traffic to flow freely. They limited the number of light cycles drivers would sit through, freed up surrounding land, and accommodated future traffic projections. Now, that’s forward thinking.
The third and final phase of the project brought a new bridge over Gunpowder Creek and a multi-lane roundabout at the intersection of KY 237 and Camp Ernst Road. At first, a dual left turn lane was considered, but was later traded for the multi-lane roundabout for two reasons: the first being that it would improve traffic flow and safety. Not only that but a roundabout is less expensive in comparison to a signalized intersection. The third phase, and ultimately the whole project was finished in the summer of 2022.
Jeremy Kubac, P.E., senior transportation engineer at Gresham Smith commented on the challenges this project faced, stating, “by the end of construction for the final section of KY 237, the first segment built was already 10 years old. The project team was challenged with delivering a design that would stand the test of time over an extended construction period and well into the future. We are proud to have played a role in safely connecting the neighborhoods, schools and businesses in this rapidly growing community within Northern Kentucky.”
This project finished earlier this summer, and it truly supports community connectivity. The project provides a safer route to the local middle school, adds multi-modal access to Boone Woods Park and increases accessibility for nearby businesses. The new SPUI, multi-use path and roundabout strengthen the backbone of Boone County and will support the growing community for years to come. R&B
Project: KY 237
Location: Burlington, Kentucky
Owners: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
Designer: Gresham Smith
Contractor: Eaton Asphalt Paving, Riegler Blacktop and L-M Asphalt/ATS Construction
Cost: $62 Million
Length: 5.2 miles
Completion Date: Summer 2022