Transportation in Northern Kentucky
Freight mobility is a key factor for economic development, and Northern Kentucky’s location in the geographical center of the Eastern United States places the Commonwealth in a strong position to compete in the global marketplace. With its borders within 600 miles of two-thirds of the nation’s population, personal income, and manufacturing business establishments, Northern Kentucky’s intermodal freight and passenger transportation systems have reached out to provide safe, efficient and cost-effective access to all points of the globe. More than 323 million tons of freight is moved through the region each year.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region is ranked as the 16th largest export market in the U.S., exporting $17.6 billion in goods in 2010, a 14% increase from 2009. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce). Global Trade Magazine ranked the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region on their Top 50 Cities list, ranking 16th based on criteria including low rates for facility leasing, transportation access and property taxes.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region has a strong logistical advantage, with convenient access to:
- Five interstates
- Two Class I railroads and one Class II railroad
- Ohio River Port of Cincinnati
- DHL air cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), one of only four air cargo hubs in the Midwest
In 2010, Kentucky ranked fourth in the nation for access to transportation, offering:
Source: North American Business Cost Review, 2010
- Lower travel and transportation costs
- Faster time to market
- Better access to customers and suppliers
- Minimized fuel consumption
OKI Regional Freight Plan
The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) recently completed the Regional Freight Plan, which identifies the future needs of the region and provides recommendations on how enhance freight transportation assets and promote economic development in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.
Several significant developments in freight transportation are identified in this plan:
Source: OKI Regional Freight Plan, 2011
- Due to changes in the global supply chain, brought on in part by these major transportation developments, overall freight volumes in the OKI region are forecasted to increase 56 percent by 2040—from 323 million tons in 2009 to 487 million tons in 2040.
- Truck traffic is forecasted to increase from 9.8 million loaded trucks in 2009 to 16 million loaded trucks by 2040—a 63 percent increase over 30 years
- Rail traffic is estimated to increase from approximately 33,000 trains per year in 2009 to 45,000 trains per year in 2040. This will increase trains in the region from 90 to 130 per day by 2040.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is the leading U.S. regional airport, providing service to 7 million passengers annually. Over 1 million passengers from the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region travel to international destinations from CVG each year.
CVG provides 180 daily departures to more than 53 non-stop cities, including non-stop international service to Paris and Toronto. CVG offers more daily flights and serves more non-stop destinations than surrounding regional airports, including Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville. CVG is also currently the 3rd largest airport for regional jets in the world, providing service by 8 airlines and 14 regional jet companies.
The New CVG
CVG has recently undergone major renovations, including improvements to the main concourse (Concourse A), greatly enhancing the travel experience for those flying for both business and leisure. The $37 million renovation includes the consolidation of most airlines into Concourse A, allowing for future growth and the attraction of new carriers. Other improvements include high-tech amenities such as electrical outlets, USB ports and wireless internet available throughout the airport, as well as new restrooms and improved signage. New and high quality images of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region are located throughout CVG, enhancing the air traveler’s experience as they make their way through the airport.
CVG continues to receive high marks for quality and service:
- Airline passengers worldwide have rated CVG one of the nation’s best airports for the 16th year in a row (2010 J.D. Power & Associates survey). No other U.S. airport has been consistently rated as highly in so many independent surveys .
- CVG was ranked #1 on a list of America's Safest Airports (Travel & Leisure Magazine, 2011)
- CVG was ranked Best Regional Airport in North America (Skytrax, 2011, 2012 and 2013)
- CVG was the first airport in the U.S. to apply for and receive SAFETY Act Designation and Certification from the Department of Homeland Security, based on their superior level of safety and security.
Several major metropolitan airports are located within a two-hour drive of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region:
Located within the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, Lunken Airport in eastern Cincinnati offers charter service to businesses and individuals, as well as sightseeing tours and aircraft maintenance services.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region is strategically located at the center of a major transportation network that serves a large portion of the Eas
tCoast and the Midwest. The region’s convenient location at the heart of this transportation corridor allows for excellent freight service and multi-modal access, encouraging the growth of economic development opportunities for local industry.
Interstate highways traversing this area are:
- I-75: north/south through MI, OH, KY, TN, GA and FL
- I-71: northeast/southwest through OH and KY
- I-74: southeast/northwest through OH, IN, IL and IA
U.S. highways in the area are:
Local interstates are:
- I-275: a perimeter highway linking Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati
- I-471: linking downtown Cincinnati with I-275
OKI Detailed Roadway Map
Interactive Road Map of Northern Kentucky
The major industrial and commercial areas of Northern Kentucky are within the Greater Cincinnati Interstate Commercial Zone. Established by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the zone permits carriers to make direct deliveries to the consignee without passing through the carrier’s terminal. More than 900 interstate common motor-freight carriers and 29 freight forwarders serve the Tri-state area. Twenty major metro areas are within one day’s truck driving time, and 30 additional markets can be reached with second-day service.
Brent Spence Bridge
The Brent Spence Bridge, which moves traffic from both I-75 and I-71, is a major transportation connection for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region and connects Ohio and Kentucky along one of the busiest freight corridors in the U.S. The Brent Spence Bridge handles an estimated $487 billion in commercial cargo annually. The bridge is slated to undergo major reconstruction in 2016, with plans including a new, double-decker bridge constructed to the west of the current bridge, in order to accommodate the major traffic for which it was not originally designed during the 1960s. The estimated cost for the new bridge is $2.4 billion, one of the largest transportation projects in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Region and a top priority identified by the OKI Regional Freight Plan in 2011. More information, including proposed designs of the new bridge, can be found at the Brent Spence Bridge Project website.
The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, covers 335,000 miles and17 states. The Ohio River and its seven navigable tributaries comprises over 2,500 miles of waterways.
As part of this system, Northern Kentucky’s location on the south side of the Ohio River, across from Cincinnati, provides maximum opportunity for waterborne shipments, home to two major barge companies, and links to 140 other barge lines.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region has approximately 50 river terminals along the Ohio River, including nine public river terminals within the Port of Cincinnati. These river terminals handle a variety of bulk cargo. Coal, grain, petroleum products, stone and chemical products make up about 90 percent of the barge shipments to and from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. Other important commodities for the region include steel coils, wire rod and aluminum. (Source: OKI Regional Freight Plan)
The Port of Cincinnati extends 30 miles along both sides of the Ohio River and is the fifth largest inland U.S. port for domestic barge loads with 13.4 million tons of product passing annually through Cincinnati on the Ohio River. With the expansion of the Panama Canal expected to be completed in 2014, the canal will allow for larger container vessels to pass through, opening up more shipping opportunities for ports in the southern and eastern U.S. This could also spur more activity within the freight corridors serving the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region is served by several major railroad transportation facilities, including three intermodal terminals and three train classification yards. The major railroad companies serving the region, including Norfolk-Southern, CSX and RailAmerica process nearly 100 trains per day. CSX and Norfolk-Southern are both Class I railroads. OKI provides a map of the active railroads in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.
CSX operates approximately 60 trains a day through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area which include:
Source: OKI Regional Freight Plan, 2011; Image courtesy: CSX
- Intermodal trains for container transfers at CSX’s Queensgate Intermodal Terminal
- Intermodal and general-merchandise trains passing through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region
- Merchandise trains originating or terminating at Queensgate Yard, providing intercity service for the region’s industries
- Local trains, serving local industries
The CSX Queensgate Yard, located west of downtown Cincinnati, is a major railroad facility for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, with more than 50 tracks to classify trains located at the site. lt also houses a locomotive repair shop, car shop, the CSX Intermodal Terminal and CSX TransFlo Terminal.
Norfolk-Southern has direct service to 22 states and Ontario, with an average of 35-40 trains per day traveling through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.
Norfolk-Southern operates several railroad transportation facilities, including:
- Gest Street Intermodal Terminal, serving as a terminal and general freight car classification yard
- Sharonville Terminal, serving as a terminal and general freight car classification yard
- Sharon Yard, used for assembling or disassembling trains as well as transferring cars between trains
One of the largest owner/operators of short-line railroads in the U.S., RailAmerica operates two short-line railroads in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region: Indiana and Ohio Railroad (IORY) and Central Railroad of Indiana (CIND), both of which interchange with CSX and Norfolk-Southern. IORY interchanges with CSX, NS, and CIND in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, running north to Blue Ash and Columbus, and east to Batavia on the “Oasis line.” The CIND line serves Cincinnati from the west, serving a few river terminals in Cincinnati and running west along the Ohio River, parallel to and north of the CSX rail line. The hub of operations for RailAmerica in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region is the McCullough Yard. Along with switching, the facility also has a locomotive shop on site.
TANK (Bus Service)
TANK - Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky provides public transit services to Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties as well as downtown Cincinnati. Close to 4 million passengers each year rely on the more than 100 TANK buses throughout the region to get them where they need to be. The TANK bus system map provides information regarding routes.
Among the many programs TANK offers to businesses and the workforce are:
- Guaranteed Ride Home. A safety net to provide a ride home, day care facility, school or the "park and ride" in case of an emergency during the work day when your bus is not running.
- RAMP. The Regional Area Mobility Program is a door to door paratransit service allowing disabled citizens who are unable to use TANK's fixed route bus service to have same schedule advantages provided to the general public.
- Park & Rides. TANK has an extensive network of 19 Park & Ride locations located throughout Northern Kentucky. Parking at a Park & Ride lot is FREE and most park and ride routes are served by Express bus routes, which offer premium service to our commuters!
- One Stop Website. TANK offers one-stop information and shopping at www.tankbus.org. Passengers can use the Google Transit trip planner for one-click directions and trip planning, the commuter calculator to determine cost savings of transit vs. driving, and the on-line store to purchase TANK passes from a home or office computer.
- Convenient Fare Media. TANK offers monthly, weekly and daily fare media options. There is a convenient way to pre-pay fare no matter how often you ride the bus.
- TANK offers a downtown connection, providing access to jobs in downtown Cincinnati, where passengers can also connect to routes operated by SORTA (Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority) and Cincinnati Metro, the bus service provided in the City of Cincinnati and surrounding Hamilton County.
- SmartCommuter. A program locally offered by TANK and Metro which allows companies to offer employees the valuable benefit of subsidized or lower cost commuting. Participating businesses take advantage of federal tax incentives (offered through Section 132 of the IRS code) to offer employees a subsidized or pre-tax transit benefit.
For more information on transportation access in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, please send an email to email@example.com
For more information on available properties in Northern Kentucky, please visit the Northern Kentucky Tri-ED Sites & Buildings database.