Lewisburg
Interstate 75

18express

Lewisburg had always played an important role in the transportation history of Covington. Located in the extreme western portion of the city, Lewisburg became Covington’s gateway to the south with the construction of the Lexington Turnpike (nor Dixie Highway). This role was solidified with the construction of the Fort Mitchell Car Line by the Cincinnati, Covington & Newport Street Railway Company at the turn of the century.

In the years following World War II, the federal government began planning for the construction of cross-country interstates that would link the nations major cities. Interstate 75, which would eventually link Michigan in the north to Florida in the south, would serve the Greater Cincinnati area. Several proposed routes were studied, including a route that would have followed the Dixie Highway and another that would have cut through Ludlow and followed the Southern Railroad tracks.

19expressInitially, Covington officials opposed plans for the interstate to be built within the city limits. The Covington business community, however, pushed strongly for the interstate to be built in Covington. They feared that if the interstate was built outside of Covington, it would draw away thousands of customers and many businesses.
By the mid 1950s, the current route through Covington was selected. A bridge in Covington’s West End would be built to carry the traffic across the Ohio River. The interstate would then follow the Willow Run Creek in the Lewisburg Neighborhood and then head southwest. The construction of the expressway did great damage to Lewisburg. One hundred homes in Covington were purchased by the federal government and demolished – many of these were located in the Lewisburg Neighborhood. The section of the interstate between 5th Street in Covington and Florence was completed in September 1962.

The interstate route through Covington did not save area businesses. Instead, business and industry moved further south and west to the suburbs and rural areas of Northern Kentucky. Many Lewisburg homes had been destroyed and others were left very close to the interstate. Not only did the interstate lure away business from Covington, but it also brought noise and pollution to the Lewisburg Neighborhood. These changing conditions in the neighborhood convinced many more residents to leave for the suburbs.

Reis, Jim, Pieces of the Past Vol. 1, (Covington: Kentucky Post) 1988, p. 198-200.

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