With the passage of the SAFETEA-LU in 2005, security became a separate, stand-alone planning factor to be reflected in, and coordinated between, both statewide and metropolitan planning processes, and consistent with security planning and review processes, plans and programs. In late 2012, MAP-21 introduced new requirements related to regional security in the form of Asset management

In December 2015, as this Plan was being updated, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation FAST ACT was passed. The FAST Act expands the scope of the metropolitan planning process to include the consideration of improving transportation system resiliency and reliability. It also encourages MPOs to consider broadening to encompass consultations with officials responsible for risk reduction from natural disasters.

State Requirements

23 U.S.C. 119(e)(1), MAP-21 § 1106 requires each state to develop a risk-based asset management plan for the National Highway System (NHS) to improve or preserve the condition of the assets and the performance of the system. In general, a State risk-based asset management plan must address pavements and bridges but are encouraged to include all infrastructure assets within the highway right-of-way in their risk-based asset management plan, such as pavement markings, culverts, guardrail, signs, traffic signals, lighting, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) infrastructure, rest areas, etc., in the asset management plan.

OKI Security-Related Activities

The FAST Act expands the scope of consideration of the metropolitan planning process to include improving transportation system resiliency and reliability. OKI has and will continue to collaborate with a variety of entities to utilize the most current technology and guiding principles in helping to minimize the impact of natural and man-made events and well as system failures to ensure a secure, reliable, regional, multi-modal transportation network. A regional security strategy relates to sustainable prevention, detection, response and recovery efforts to protect regional transportation systems’ critical infrastructure. The following text documents actions and strategies being implemented throughout the region for strengthening regional security.

Critical Infrastructure

The OKI region is fortunate to have a diverse range of multi-modal transportation infrastructure. The Emergency Evacuation Report Card 2006, the most recent of such studies compiled from research findings by the American Highway Users Alliance, ranks Cincinnati’s evacuation capacity as sixth best out of the 37 largest U.S. urban areas with more than one million in population. The critical need for the region to invest in the maintenance and expansion of this infrastructure will not only ensure the continuous flow of freight, economic activity and the quality of life in the area, but also help address The FAST Act’s policy of improving transportation system resiliency and reliability. A brief description of these assets is included in the following sections.


Highways are essential for evacuation and in response and recovery efforts. OKI has approximately 2,000 lane miles of highway network and many of these can be considered critical structures and/or on essential corridors. An additional 14,000 lane miles of other roadways are used to transport both passengers and goods carrying approximately 44 million vehicle miles a day.

The core of the roadway network is this region’s components of the National Highway System (NHS). The 398 miles of NHS within the OKI region include I-71, I-74, I-75, I-275, I-471, US 27 (in Ohio, north of I-74; in Kentucky, between the Ohio state line and I-471 in Southgate and between I-471 in Highland Heights and SR 9), KY 8 (between I-71/75 and I-471) and KY 9 (the AA Highway) in Kentucky, and SR 4 (north of I-75), SR 32 (east of I-275), SR 125, SR 126 (Ronald Reagan Highway), SR 129 (Butler County Veterans Highway), and SR 562 (Norwood Lateral) in Ohio. This region’s NHS components carry over 50 percent of the region’s daily traffic.

The Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET) is a national system of about 61,000 miles of highways, including the interstate system. An additional 2,000 miles of STRAHNET Connectors link important military installations and ports. Together, STRAHNET and its connectors define the total minimum public highway network necessary to support Defense deployment needs. The OKI region contains 1,484 lane miles of the STRAHNET system, which includes the interstates and SR 32 east of I-275.


The OKI region consists of almost two million people. Their livelihood and the economy of the region greatly depend on the highway system. With the natural barrier of the Ohio, Licking Great Miami and Little Miami rivers and their numerous tributaries, bridges are a critical element of the region and a key consideration of disaster preparedness. The Ohio River Bridges represent seven of some of the most critical structures in the region.

Of particular importance to the OKI region and all of North America is the consistent operation of the Brent Spence Bridge. Interstate 75 connects Miami, Florida and Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. The current configuration of the Brent Spence Bridge presents a problem for homeland security efforts. The movement of emergency vehicles across the bridge in the event of serious emergency is restricted by the lack of shoulders and substandard vertical clearance which is less than 15 feet.

The Brent Spence Bridge was originally designed for 80,000 vehicles per day. In 1995, it carried 143,000 vehicles a day, and in 2015, it carried 152,000 vehicles per day. This is nearly twice its original design capacity. By the year 2040, the traffic volume is expected to increase to over 200,000 vehicles per day which will place it over 2.5 times its current bridge capacity. This is a 140 percent increase in traffic volumes since 1995 and over a 130 percent increase in traffic volumes since 2013.

Listed from east to west, the population and economy of the region depends on these seven bridges:

  • I-275 – Combs-Hehl Bridge
  • I-471 – Daniel Carter Beard Bridge
  • US 27 – Taylor Southgate Bridge
  • John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge
  • US 42 – Clay Wade Bailey Bridge
  • I-71/75 – Brent Spence Bridge
  • I-275 – Carroll C. Cropper Bridge

Ohio River Ports

The Ohio River is the largest tributary by volume of the Mississippi River Inland Waterway System. The river’s current depth is at least nine feet along the length of the entire navigation system.

The OKI maritime system consists of approximately 50 river terminals along the Ohio River handling 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 OKI region. Other important commodities for the region include steel coils, wire rod and aluminum. The Ohio River system is dominated by private terminal operators.

Upstream of St. Louis, tows are limited to 15 barges because of the size of the locks—chambers that lift or lower towboats through dam structures—which are required to maintain the minimum channel depth of nine feet. Two lock and dam complexes in the OKI region illustrate their importance to interstate commerce and security. The Markland lock and dam, located at Ohio River Mile 531.5, is 3.5 miles downstream of Warsaw, Kentucky. Markland had a miter gate failure in 2009. The disruption of the 1,200 foot lock forced large barge tows to disassemble in order to pass through Markland’s 600 foot auxiliary chamber. This malfunction caused by age and disrepair resulted in delivery delays of almost 11 hours on average. Improvements to the Markland locks and dam were completed in 2010. Upstream of the OKI region, the Captain Anthony Meldahl lock and dam underwent reconstruction in 2010, which included the addition of a three turbine, low-impact hydroelectric plant and spillway.

Modernization and maintenance along the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee river systems continues to be a top local, regional and national priority. More than half of the current navigation structures are past their structural design life. Plans are underway to modernize several locks and dams, however a systematic improvements program for inland maritime networks is needed to ensure continued commerce and security.


Railroads are vital to the economy, national defense and public health. Some 40 percent of all intercity freight goes by rail, including 67 percent of the coal used by electric utilities to produce power. The chemicals used to purify the nation’s water supplies also move by rail. And railroads provide critical support to the Department of Defense Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET), which includes more than 30,000 miles of interconnected rail line and provides the backbone for the movement of Department of Defense shipments.

In the OKI region, the main railroad lines run north/south through the Mill Creek Valley and form the spine of the region’s rail system. CSX operates more than 70 trains per day through the area, and Norfolk Southern Railroad (NS) operates as many as 50 trains per day. Any major disruption to these lines would result in rerouting trains around the region with significant impacts to congestion on other rail lines, shipment time and delays. It could also result in a temporary mode shift, exacerbating truck congestion in the region. The NS and CSX railroads have bridges crossing the Ohio River south of Cincinnati, and adverse impacts on them represents a security risk with a profile similar to the Ohio River highway bridges.

Since the last 2040 Plan update, the volume of crude oil moving by rail has increased. Railroads have safely moved this vital energy resource for many years. However, in 2014, freight railroads further committed to the safe and secure delivery of crude oil by rail by joining with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to announce a rail operations safety initiative that would institute new voluntary operating practices for moving crude oil by rail. The announcement followed consultations between railroads represented by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), including the leadership of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The announcement covered voluntary steps related to crude by rail operations.

  • Increased Track Inspections
  • Enhanced Braking Systems
  • Use of Rail Traffic Routing Technology
  • Lower Speeds
  • Continued Community Relations
  • Increased Trackside Safety Technology
  • Increased Emergency Response Training and Tuition Assistance
  • Inventory of Emergency Response Capability Planning and Resources


The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) provides public data on pipelines in the U.S. PHMSA illustrates the efficiency of pipeline transportation, using the example of a large pipeline that can transport roughly two million barrels of gasoline a day. By way of comparison, to transport an equivalent amount by another mode would take the following:

  • 9,375 large semi-truck tankers
  • Twenty-four 100-car unit trains extending three miles each
  • Ten 15-unit barge tows

Trucks, vessels and trains consume diesel or other liquid fuels and contribute to congestion in the nation’s freight and passenger transportation corridors. Further, as the National Transportation Safety Board has observed, pipeline transportation has a consistently lower accident rate than other modes.

The OKI region contains more than 904 miles of pipelines. These pipelines carry natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, crude, empty liquid, highly volatile liquid and product. There are a number of river terminals and pipeline operators in the region, although an exact number is difficult to ascertain because of security measures surrounding the pipeline industry. Therefore, the following information describes pipeline operations in the region to the degree that could be discerned from various public sources.

The majority of pipelines serving the OKI region carry natural gas and are dispersed throughout the region. Petroleum and other pipeline operations are also prevalent. A single crude pipeline runs approximately 50 miles in a north-south direction through the OKI region. Not shown in Figure 6-10 is the number of pipelines designated as “unspecified” by the PHMSA. These “unspecified” pipelines comprise the second greatest percentage of total linear miles.


Pipeline Commodities by Total Linear Mile


The effectiveness of transit systems depends on their accessibility.  As a result, transit agencies face significant challenges in making their systems secure. For example, the high ridership of some transit agencies makes them attractive targets for terrorists but also makes certain security measures, like metal detectors, impractical. In a chemical spill or other emergency event, transit could assist in evacuating large numbers of people out of harm’s way. Yet another challenge is funding identified security enhancements. Although some security improvements, such as locking bus doors at night, have little or no cost, most improvements require substantial funding. Funding security improvements is problematic for a number of reasons including tight budget environments, competing budget priorities and the prohibition on transit agencies that serve areas with populations of 200,000 or more from using federal urbanized area formula funds for operating expenses. In addition, coordination among all transit stakeholders can also pose challenges. Despite the formidable challenges in securing transit systems, transit agencies in the OKI region have taken a number of steps to improve the security of their systems.

A regional transit security strategy is an overarching strategy for the region with mode specific goals and objectives as they relate to prevention, detection, response and recovery as a sustainable effort to protect regional transit systems’ critical infrastructure from terrorism.  Emphasis is placed on explosives and non-conventional threats that would cause major loss of life and severe disruption, as required by the Department of Homeland Security.

Butler County Regional Transit Authority

The Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) is currently developing an Emergency Preparedness Plan to address the organization’s changing needs. Current security measures taken by BCRTA include emergency call buttons and global positioning system (GPS) automated locator devices included with on-board vehicle computers capable of two-way text messaging on paratransit vehicles, in addition to on-board cameras for all fixed route vehicles. Presently, BCRTA is in the process of replacing two-way radio units and integrating radio systems with Butler County first responders via the Butler Regional Interoperable Communications System (BRICS).

City of Middletown Transit System

The Middletown Transit System is operated as a division of the city’s Department of Community Revitalization. As part of the city, the transit system is incorporated in the Emergency Preparedness Plan created in 2000, and the plan is updated as needed. Transit system security also includes electronically monitored facilities and random on-board police checks.

Clermont Transportation Connection

The Clermont Transportation Connection (CTC) is the public transit service for Clermont County. CTC has an approved System Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan. Current security measures taken by CTC include on-board video cameras, emergency call buttons and electronically secured and monitored facilities.

Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) operates Metro, the public transit service for the greater Cincinnati area. Metro has an approved System Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan with functioning components for continuous updating. Metro has also developed a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to help guide the agency in the event of an emergency.

Current security measures taken by Metro include on-board video cameras, emergency call buttons and a global positioning system. Security measures also include random police rides, police checks while buses are in service and periodic canine inspections of the coaches at the garage.  Metro’s facilities are secured with proximity employee ID badge readers and monitored via a closed circuit camera monitoring system.

In addition to working closely with local law enforcement, Metro has developed an operational relationship with the Department of Homeland Security and the regional Emergency Management Agency in establishing a unified system of security for the prevention of intentional harm to their employees and the ability to maintain service in the event of an emergency.

Warren County Transit Service

The Warren County Transit Service (WCTS) has a System Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan. Also, WCTS has on-board cameras, and each vehicle has a radio that is connected to the county’s public safety communication system. This system is part of the statewide Multi-Agency Radio Communications (MARC) program that allows drivers direct access to emergency dispatchers.

Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky

The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) has an Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) that was completed in 2003. The EPP established by TANK includes a communications checklist, media process, alternative vehicle and fuel storage locations and finance and administrative procedures. The EPP is updated periodically (most recently in 2014), with contact information and any changes necessitated by TANK’s involvement with other regional emergency planning partners

In addition, TANK works closely with local law enforcement, SORTA, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and the Northern Kentucky Emergency Planning Committee to play a significant role in protecting against, responding to and recovering from major events. Most of TANK’s fleet is equipped with multiple on-board security cameras, and every TANK vehicle is tracked by a GPS-based vehicle location system. TANK is also in the process of securing the TANK administrative and dispatch facility with a controlled access security system.

Regional Homeland Security

For several years, work has been underway to broaden emergency planning and response efforts in the Greater Cincinnati region. Many groups have been formed and meet to address regional issues associated with homeland security. OKI partnerships with such regional organizations are in direct alignment with The FAST Act’s policy of encouraging MPOs to consider broadening to encompass consultations with officials responsible for risk reduction from natural disasters.

Security and Emergency Management Agencies

There are three levels of emergency response in the OKI region:  local fire and police agencies, which have the resources and equipment to manage most natural and human disasters; county emergency management agencies, which plan and coordinate major response activities; and state emergency management agencies, which coordinate emergency response staff and equipment from a deeper resource pool.

For the vast majority of security and emergency cases, local police and fire agencies are equipped to handle incidents including HAZMAT releases or major infrastructure failures. Where there is an uncommon release of material, agencies have “mutual aid” agreements to share technical resources if a certain agency lacks capacity or expertise. Similarly, larger emergency incidents—such as extraordinary fires, materials spills or infrastructure failures—can draw on the combined human and equipment resources of multiple jurisdictions across a region.

County emergency management agencies play a key role in emergency planning and coordination. Planning includes inventorying resources that might be deployed in the event of a disaster, planning for infrastructure disruptions, identifying temporary housing resources for displaced people and conducting mock disaster exercises with local response agencies.

Southwestern Ohio, Southeastern Indiana and Northern Kentucky

From the original 2003 Urban Area Security Initiative definition of the region which defined the urban area as Cincinnati/Hamilton County, representatives from the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County reached out in early 2005 to the other counties surrounding this initially defined urban area. These counties now represent the new urban area, identified as southwestern Ohio, southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky (SOSINK). The area includes eight counties in Ohio (Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren); three in northern Kentucky (Boone, Campbell and Kenton); and one in southeastern Indiana (Dearborn). Read more…

Greater Cincinnati GIS Users Group

The Greater Cincinnati Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Users Group convenes across state, county and city boundaries to learn from one another and consider opportunities for collaboration to benefit the region. The group advocates for a coordinated regional approach to the design and development of GIS databases, a unified data dictionary and data standards, which promote the flow of information and data sharing across the region. This regional GIS database could also be utilized in response to any number of security issues facing the region by local emergency agencies, all working from the same base of updated geographic information. User group members have offered their GIS expertise during extended activations of the Regional Operations Center (ROC).

Emergency Preparedness Collaborative

The Emergency Preparedness Collaborative (EPC) is a grassroots network of agencies and professionals working together to foster the development of best practices such as plans, systems and resources that will assist vulnerable populations in preparing for and responding to emergencies in the greater Cincinnati area. As an active member in the EPC, OKI also participates in the EPC’s transportation work group. One of OKI’s roles in the collaborative is to assist in the identification of areas with high concentrations of vulnerable populations. To accomplish this task, OKI uses many of the same census data variables that it uses in the identification of its environmental justice populations. With a regional street network and routing capabilities, OKI is also prepared to assist with the development of evacuation plans in the event that members of a particular population group need to be evacuated.

Regional Emergency Mapping System

OKI, in cooperation with regional partners and SOSINK, successfully developed and utilizes a cutting-edge emergency management system known as RAVEN911 (Regional Asset Verification & Emergency Network). This system incorporates critical infrastructure layers, live data feeds and analytic capabilities into an Internet-based common operating picture, allowing emergency responders from across the Greater Cincinnati region to identify significant infrastructure and key resources. Read more…

Regional Security Planning Elements

OKI has completed a number of regional and sub-regional plans or studies. Many of these documents include security-related recommendations for future implementation. Although the initial intent of these recommendations may have been to address congestion or travel time, taken in a broader context, these elements could also assist in increasing the region’s security through improved transportation networks. The text that follows provides a sampling of such recommendations and references the plan or study from which it was drawn. This information is presented for consideration and further application to benefit the security of the entire OKI region.

Intelligent Transportation System

OKI’s Regional Intelligent Transportation System Plan (ITS Plan) and ITS Architecture was adopted in March 2008 and updated in 2012 and 2016. The purpose is to guide OKI, its member transportation agencies and local governments in the planning, programming and implementation of integrated multimodal ITS elements over a 10-year period. The most extensive system of advanced ITS technologies in the OKI region is ARTIMIS (now Through the teamwork of OKI, KYTC, ODOT and local governments, ARTIMIS was designed to provide consolidated traffic management without regard to state and political boundaries.  The system covers more than 100 miles of the region’s freeway system with the heaviest traffic. More extensive project recommendations involving ITS can be found under the Draft Project List page of this website.

Traffic Camera System

Discussion of a traffic camera system was well documented in OKI’s 2005 Dixie Highway Corridor Study. The addition of a camera system to a closed loop system can assist the security of the region in a number of ways. Such a system can reduce vehicular delays by enabling traffic signals to be adjusted from a secure, remote location should an evacuation or mass volume of traffic be necessary. Cameras could enable traffic problems and system malfunctions to be identified or tampering detected and managed from a centralized signal management center. The location of the management center would not be limited geographically due to the ability of the camera feed to be viewed from any location. Images from the camera have the ability to be broadcast over the internet to reach and inform thousands of citizens. With real time video, information could be viewed and shared immediately, thereby keeping communication clear and accurate. OKI continues to fund integrated signal systems to enhance traffic management and security throughout the region including the Cincinnati, Fairfield, Mason and the Eastgate area of Clermont County.

ARTIMIS Interconnection

This type of camera setup would be useful for the ARTIMIS interconnection as well. If tied into the ARTIMIS system, traffic operators could respond quickly and efficiently once a problem is verified. In turn, operators would be able to identify accidents and alert drivers via radio (530 AM), phone (511), the internet ( or the Dynamic Message Signs. Once a problem is resolved, any timing changes and signal systems can be returned to normal operation.

Emergency Preemption

Emergency preemption is being discussed throughout the OKI region and has been documented in such projects as the Western Hamilton County Transportation Study and the Dixie Highway Corridor Study. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2003 Edition, issued by the Federal Highway Administration, defines preemption control as “The transfer of normal operation of a traffic control signal to a special control mode of operation”. Preemption devices can be provided for any type of vehicle that requires the immediate right-of-way at an intersection. Some types of vehicles supersede others when a traffic control signal responds to more than one type or class. In general, a vehicle that is more difficult to control supersedes a vehicle that is easier to control. This order is typically as follows: trains, boats, heavy vehicles (fire vehicles, emergency medical service), light vehicles (law enforcement), light rail transit and rubber-tired transit. Therefore, based on this definition, emergency preemption is the transfer of normal operation of a traffic control signal to provide right-of-way to emergency vehicles. Currently, two types of emergency vehicle detection technologies are available. One type uses sonic sensors to detect standard emergency vehicle sirens. The second detects light from a special emitter mounted on authorized emergency vehicles. The sonic sensors are often used by communities where outer suburban district emergency vehicles pass through.

In the OKI region, emergency preemption has been supported by local elected officials, staff and police, fire and emergency medical service (EMS) operators. Stakeholders view preemption as a means of improving response time of emergency personnel and safety at intersections. A Hamilton County study of Colerain Avenue showed that with the use of emergency preemption, EMS travel time could be reduced by as much as 22 percent. In emergency situations, this amount of time savings could literally mean the difference between life and death.

Hazardous and Risk Materials

In order to take a more proactive approach in terms of the transport of hazardous materials, several locations in the OKI region are restricted to such cargoes. Alternate routes are provided and must be used. Re-routing of hazardous rail and highway shipments from densely urban areas reduces the opportunity for chemical disaster risks whether accident or terrorism to occur. The OKI Regional Freight Plan (August 2011) documented that hazardous materials comprise more than five percent of total freight volume and value in the region. Less than four percent of rail movements are of hazardous material, however, whereas almost 10 percent of water shipments are hazardous because petroleum products and chemicals make up a large share of barge traffic. By 2040, the Regional Freight Plan projected that hazardous materials will account for just over four percent of total freight volumes.