Saturday, August 26, 2000

Third Street ramp open to southbound motorists

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        With scissors in hand, more than a dozen businessmen, politicians and engineers crowded around the corner of Third and Elm streets Friday to cut the ribbon for a new exit ramp.

        The Fort Washington Way project team invited the public to cut the ribbon themselves in celebration of the completion of the Third Street ramp to southbound Interstate 75 — the latest aspect of the $314 million project to open.

        “There's no way south from the city and that's kind of crazy,” said Rhonda Gregory, who works on Elm Street and lives in Erlanger. “I'm so excited about this. I wanted to see where it was and how to get to it.”

        The new ramp will carry motorists from Third Street and the surrounding central business dis trict to the interstate. The ramp was not a part of the original Fort Washington Way, but was added as a part of the reconstruction project to provide better downtown access to southbound I-75.

        The ramp was also designed to provide a possible future connection to I-75 north. Although it was built for an additional $1.5 million, the final connection won't be made until the Ohio Department of Transportation approves the exit, which could take up to two years.

        Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken had his scissors hanging from a belt loop — like a gun in a holster.

        “Normally we don't like to make it easy to get to Kentucky,” he joked before he started the countdown to the cutting. “I think people are going to like what they see each time there's a new road opening.

        “It's really coming together.”

        The two-year reconstruction project, which stretches from the Brent Spence Bridge to the Lytle Tunnel in downtown Cincinnati, was designed to make Fort Washington Way safer and improve riverfront access for pedestrians.

        It also reduces the amount of riverfront space devoted to the highway, reclaiming 14.5 acres for development.

        The new Third Street exit should see a lot of action, especially since project officials announced the Ninth Street ramp to I-75 south would close at 7 a.m. Monday and remain closed for two weeks.

        The Ninth Street exit will reopen on Friday and remain open for Labor Day weekend, and close again by 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5. It will reopen for good by 7 p.m. Sept. 8.


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