Wednesday, August 09, 2000

Corridor proposal stresses unity

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Local officials pushing an $800 million eastern corridor project appeared to make a good impression on a key state committee Tuesday by stressing regional cooperation and several types of transportation.

  Here are the highlights of the $800 million eastern corridor improvement project pitched Tuesday to the Transportation Review Advisory Council:

New highways:

  • Eastgate Parkway between Interstate 275 and Ohio 32.
  • Eastgate Boulevard extension from Clough Pike to Ohio 125.
  • Ancor connector between Ohio 32 and Broadwell Road.
  • Relocated Ohio 32 between Eight Mile Road and U.S. 50 (new Little Miami River crossing at Red Bank Road).

Highway widening:

  • I-275 between U.S. 52 and Five Mile Road.
  • Ohio 32 east between I-275 and Eastgate Boulevard.
  • Red Bank Road between Erie Avenue and U.S. 50.
  • Newtown Road between U.S. 50 and relocated Ohio 32.
  • Ohio 126 between U.S. 50 and Shawnee Run Road.
  • U.S. 50 between Wolfpen-Pleasant Hill and Round Bottom roads.
  • Eastern Avenue at the rail overpass.
  Source: Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

        Representatives of Hamilton and Clermont counties and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments are seeking $4.9 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation's Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) to finish a $22 million engineering study. Other funds for preliminary studies, which began earlier this year, will come from local and federal sources.

        “We're just happy everyone seems to be on the same page, and that they've brought in everyone concerned,” said ODOT director Gordon Proctor, who chaired Tuesday's meeting. “That helps their chances immensely. ... That's probably the single biggest attribute they presented.”

        The project would create four new highways connecting western Clermont County and eastern Hamilton County, widen several existing roads, and add bus and light rail routes to downtown.

        TRAC approval would give the project a good chance of making Ohio's 2005 road budget.

        Planners hope the project will ease traffic from downtown Cincinnati to Batavia and from Interstate 471 in Northern Kentucky to Milford.

        TRAC isn't expected to make a decision until December, but member James Greensfelder voiced his support Tuesday.

        “I'm 100 percent behind it,” said Mr. Greensfelder, of Sharonville. “This has got it all.”

        Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin said officials used the cooperation shown on the Fort Washington Way project as a model.

        For example, a community task force included 60 different members ranging from Beechmont and Eastgate malls to to the city of Newport to the Sierra Club. Offi cials from Newtown-based Senco Products Inc. addressed TRAC members Tuesday, extolling the potential economic impact.

        Mr. Dowlin added that the proposed project could quell dissent in Anderson Township, where some residents oppose the continuation of Five Mile Road through Clough Pike to Newtown Road.

        Clermont County administrator Steve Wharton and OKI executive director Jim Duane also stressed that project officials would consider future land use when planning roads. During their 15-minute presentation, they added that the project would reduce traffic by nearly 400,000 miles traveled per day.

        “The key is that people need to be able to define their community ... it's our job to incorporate a transportation system into that vision,” Mr. Wharton said. “We expect some conflicts and there are some people who don't want change under any circumstances. But this will be for the regional good.”


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