Safety signs, truck-climbing lanes, new interchanges and widening areas of the road are a few of the recommendations for improving Interstate 71 across Northern Kentucky, including through Trimble and Carroll counties.

Yet those ideas may take years - and hundreds of millions of dollars - to accomplish.

Qk4, an engineering and planning group from Frankfort, Ky., gathered data on the 77-mile stretch of I-71 from Jefferson County to Boone County over the past several months.

The firm looked at safety issues, traffic patterns and improvements that might be needed over the next 25 years.

Qk4 project manager Annette Coffee told county officials from northern Kentucky that the study found a mix of issues throughout all 77 miles of interstate reviewed.

Preliminary reports identified 48 priority improvements, including widening parts of the interstate to six lanes, installing cable guardrails, replacing bridges, adding median pier protection to bridges, extending merge lengths to the interstate and adding turn lanes on exit ramps.

Coffee told county officials the current road from Jefferson County to KY 153 in Henry County will likely need additional lanes to handle the increase of traffic in the next 25 years.

The firm expects six lanes will be needed in Jefferson, Oldham and Henry counties, and in Boone County near Interstate 75 by 2038.

Recommended improvements in Carroll County included the replacement of "structurally deficient" bridges over the Kentucky River. Another recommendation - ranked at priority number 40 - included the construction of a new interchange near KY 47 for a connection to U.S. 42.

Other improvements included truck-climbing lanes on a hill near the border of Carroll and Trimble counties.

Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold "Shorty" Tomlinson said he had hoped to see a few more projects included on the priority lists.

"We seem to have a little more urgency," Tomlinson said of the priority timelines. "We always like to see things done a bit quicker."

Qk4 has identified some of the priority items as "quick wins."

A few, such as the addition of deer warning signs, already have been completed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Coffee said.

"I think we've done a good job addressing safety issues," Tomlinson said, yet the increased traffic issues on Interstate 71 need to be addressed now.

"When trucks sit in traffic, it costs money," he said.

A final report on the interstate is expected early next year. County officials hope to include some of the priority work on the state's six-year improvement plan after the study is completed.