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OKI Wanna Know: What's with the finger at CVG, and other travel related questions

An oversized replica of the finger of Adam from Michelangelo's famous painting, pointing to two buttons: one marked "To Terminal," the other "To Concourse B."
Bill Rinehart
/
WVXU
The button finger at Concourse A gives visitors the option of calling the train to go to Concourse B or to the Terminal.

Our feature OKI Wanna Know seeks answers for those strange little questions about the area. This week, as millions of Americans prepare to travel for Thanksgiving, we have two questions related to traveling. WVXU's Bill Rinehart has more.

If you're taking the interstate to get to your holiday destination, consider this question from Patrick Weese of Montgomery:

"Every day when I drive home I see the message boards that have the distance and the time it takes to get from point A to point B on the interstate," Weese says. "That time is pretty right on. I've checked it a couple of times. It is accurate and so I always wondered how they figure out how much time to put on those screens."

An Ohio Department of Transportation message board on I-75, estimating the travel time to the Norwood Lateral is six minutes.
Bill Rinehart
/
WVXU
An ODOT message board on I-75 northbound at Hopple, as viewed through a dirty windshield.

It may come as no surprise, but it's all calculated by computer. Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning says the estimate is based on distance and the average speed between the two points.

"Typically, and I'm generalizing big time, you're probably mostly going to see a mile a minute. I'm looking at one on 275 east at Mosteller right now that shows distance to I-74: 16 miles (at) 17 minutes; distance to Downtown on south 75, 18 miles (at) 18 minutes."

Bruning says ODOT used to get the average speed of vehicles from road sensors and radar.

"But obviously, as technology has evolved, more and more of us are using smartphones that are constantly communicating with GPS and pinging off of cell phone towers; Sirius XM Radio is more prevalent now; GPS is doing two-way communication. You take all of that together and that's what gets that data point for us. It really helps us to be able to see things in real time on our freeway system. Even in areas where we don't have camera coverage."

It's anonymous. ODOT can't look and see how fast any particular vehicle is moving.

Right now, the signs have amber lights. But in Columbus, ODOT is testing colored lights on the signs to give drivers another idea of how traffic ahead is moving: quickly, green; slowly, yellow; or very slowly, red.

If you're flying out of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport for the holidays, take time to notice what Jessica Andrews-Griffin of Amberly Village saw. It has something to do with the underground train between the concourses and the main terminal:

"At each stop there is a button and there is a God hand. I say a God hand because it's Michelangelo's from the Sistine Chapel; it's the Birth of Adam, there's a God hand pointing at this button."

An oversized replica of the finger of Adam from Michelangelo's famous painting, pointing to two buttons: one marked "To Terminal," the other "To Concourse B."
Bill Rinehart
/
WVXU
The button finger at Concourse A gives visitors the option of calling the train to go to Concourse B or to the Terminal.

Andrews-Griffin says she wants to know what the button does.

"I pressed it once, and then I ran away," she laughs.

What time the button is pressed is important. CVG Spokesperson Mindy Kershner says it calls one of the two trains after hours.

"We have one that we take out of service around 11 o'clock at night. And that is down usually for regular maintenance, and it stays out of operation until about 4 a.m.," she says. "The other train operates until about 1 a.m. It is then on-call."

That's when a traveler can press the button and wait for the train to wake up.

Kershner says they put up the pointing finger because they wanted something eye-catching, and it fits in with the Arts in the Airport program "where we do try to incorporate a look and a feel to the airport," she says. "I know you've gotten a question about it, so it makes us think maybe we do need to label it if it's not something that people can intuitively know to 'Hey, go push this button.' "

Here's another fun fact about the train between the terminal to the concourses: It's not a train at all. Kershner says there are no rails and no wheels.

"The train actually floats on air. I was told each car has two Paxton superchargers. Basically, what that does is it produces a high volume/low pressure air, so the tram is literally floating on air," she says.

And one more piece of train trivia: it hits a top speed of 20 miles per hour briefly before it has to start slowing down for the next stop.

If you come up with a question while traveling over the holidays, or if you need to settle an argument with that one in-law, ask OKI Wanna Know by filling out the form below.

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Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.