News in Brief


I-75 lane closures slated Sept. 8, 9

MANCHESTER — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to restrict northbound and southbound traffic to one lane on Interstate 75 in Whitley County (mile point 14.5; Gold Bug over the Cumberland River), Sept. 8.

On Tuesday, northbound traffic at mile point 14.5 will be reduced to one lane from 10 a.m. to noon, while southbound traffic at mile point 14.5 will be reduced to one lane from 1-4 p.m.

KYTC plans to restrict northbound and southbound traffic to one lane on Interstate 75 in Laurel County (mile point 30.6; Laurel River), Sept. 9.

On Wednesday, northbound traffic at mile point 30.6 will be reduced to one lane from 9 a.m. to noon, while southbound traffic at mile point 30.6 will be reduced to one lane from 1-4 p.m.

The lane restrictions will allow crews to perform a detailed inspection of the bridge structures. Engineers will be using a Snooper Truck to access the deck substructures on the bridges.

Motorists are advised to use caution during this period and be aware of signage, road crews and other drivers. The work is dependent on weather conditions.

The date, time, and duration of work may be adjusted if inclement weather or other unforeseen delays occur. Dial 511 or navigate 511.ky.gov, and Waze (www.waze.com) for the latest in traffic and travel information in Kentucky. You can also get traffic information for District 11 counties at www.facebook.com/KYTCDistrict11.

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Hearing held in Lexington on proposed stream protection rule

LEXINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators have heard from a divided crowd who attended a public hearing in Lexington on a proposed stream protection rule.

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation has said the proposed rule overhauls a set of regulations that are three decades old.

Under the proposal, coal companies would be required to avoid mining practices that destroy drinking water sources, permanently pollute streams, threaten forests and increase flood risk.

Companies also would be required to restore streams and return mined areas to their previous uses and form.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that supporters of the rule said during Thursday’s meeting that the rule is long overdue while those who oppose it said that it is unnecessary and would hurt an already struggling industry by increasing costs and taking away jobs.

“The impacts of this over-reaching rule on our economy would be crushing,” said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who was the first of dozens to speak. He urged federal regulators to reconsider.

“It will cripple the coal-mining industry,” said Josh Phillips, a miner from Harlan County who now works in Indiana.

Environmentalists argued that the rules should go even further and asked regulators to enforce provisions that are approved.

“We have a terrible history of nice words on paper and failure to implement,” said Hank Graddy, an attorney who prepared comments on the rule for the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

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Thousands of gallons of oil spilled in Mississippi River

COLUMBUS (AP) — Part of the Mississippi River was closed as crews investigated an oil spill caused by the collision of two tow boats, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

The collision Wednesday evening near Columbus, Kentucky, damaged at least one barge carrying clarified slurry oil. The cargo tank was ruptured, causing thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the river, the Coast Guard said.

No injuries were reported.

The river is closed from mile markers 938 to 922, Petty Officer Lora Ratliff said.

The barge was carrying approximately 1 million gallons, but the breach was only in one area, affecting just one of its six tanks, Ratliff said. That tank holds 250,000 gallons, and Lt. Takila Powell said a little more than 120,000 gallons spilled into the river.

The Coast Guard said it was working with the barge owner, Inland Marine Services, and an oil spill response organization. Inland Marine Services referred calls to its public relations person, Patrick Crowley, who did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

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Uber cleared for pickups at Cincinnati, Ky. airport

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has decided to allow Uber to pick up passengers.

WCPO-TV reports the airport signed an agreement with Uber on Thursday. It once banned Uber and Lyft from picking up arrivals. It had cited customer safety and security concerns in prohibiting the companies from operating there.

But the ban has been lifted as the ride-sharers obtained proper licensing, insurance and permits. Lyft cleared that hurdle in July.

Uber General Manager Casey Verkamp says the agreement gives tens of thousands of Uber users “access to convenience” at the airport.

Airport CEO Candace McGraw says its customers desire options, and Uber now joins several other transportation options at the facility.

Airport officials say they’ve received some pushback from cab companies over the agreement.

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Plan for backup water supply underway in Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia American Water says it has initiated a contingency plan for a temporary backup water supply to its Huntington water treatment plant in response to increasing algae blooms on the Ohio River.

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission notified the utility last week that algae blooms had been detected on the river upstream of Huntington.

The water company says in a news release the plan includes connecting large, temporary raw water lines from the Guyandotte River into the company’s raw water line.

The company says it will continue to monitor water quality upstream and at the Huntington treatment plant.

Company President Jeff McIntyre says the backup source may not be needed, but precautions are being taken for customers’ protection in the event that the algae blooms worsen.

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