Covington hires new city manager; mayor proposes "right-size" Brent Spence Bridge project

07/19/2017 06:15 PM

COVINGTON — The city of Covington has named David Johnston as the new city manager to lead northern Kentucky’s largest city five months after the city commission forced out former City Manager Larry Klein, who resigned.

Johnston, who previously served as city manager of Maple Valley, Wash., will be paid $140,000 and will start no later than Aug. 21.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer believes that Johnston brings a lot of effective skills to the table.

“Just terrific experience in areas like economic redevelopment, in strategic planning, in budgeting processes, so he’s bringing a very strong skill set to our city,” Meyer said.

“Additionally, his demeanor and attitude, the way he handles himself, I think will fit right in.”

The current two-month road repair project on the Brent Spence Bridge has snarled traffic on Interstates 71 and 75 and other roadways in the area.

There has been talk for years about constructing another bridge next to the Brent Spence Bridge to relieve traffic snarls in the area, but the big question has been should tolls be part of the equation.

Last week, a survey released form the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, showed that 61 percent would find the toll acceptable with 33 percent opposed.

Meyer, who has been a strong opponent against tolls, feels that the survey results don’t truly reflect the opinions of the majority of northern Kentuckians.

“I found it interesting that when they released their numbers, they did not release top line numbers for Northern Kentucky, they threw us in with Indiana, so, my first sense is that if they would have had strong support for tolls in northern Kentucky, they would have released those numbers,” Meyer said.

Meyer is one who believes that the current version of the “Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project,” in which new access roads and viaducts will connect to the current bridge as well as a newly constructed one, is too costly and is not what is needed.

He proposes what he calls a “right-size” Brent Spence Bridge project.

“The city of Covington has already identified a number of things that could be done to improve the northbound approaches so that the weaving that occurs between 12th Street, Pike Street and the bridge is eliminated, so once you get to Pike Street, it’s four lanes all the way across because the simple truth is today, when our northbound drivers hit the bridge, they actually speed up,” Meyer said.

“We’ve also proposed realigning the 4th Street interchange so you won’t have the 4th Street access ramp going right onto the bridge itself. Instead, we recommended taking it around the expressway and tie it into the Pike Street interchange.”

The Covington mayor favors more study of the so-called eastern bypass route in which I-71 is extended along the southern sections of Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties before crossing the river east of Cincinnati and reconnecting with the current I-71 north of town.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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