Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Roadwork near approval despite fight




By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Final action allowing the Ohio Department of Transportation to rebuild Main Street — a project long opposed by many residents and businesses on the road — got a shaky first hearing Tuesday.

        A second ordinance, also introduced Tuesday, would commit $4.2 million in city money to the project, much of it for storm water and electric utility work.

        Council reluctantly supported the Main Street project almost a year ago, and Tuesday night three of seven members — Mark Flick, Jane Davenport and Ben Cole — voted against first readings of the new legislation, indicating they might oppose it. Final votes are expected Nov. 13.

        The project needs four votes to pass, but council candidate Gary Casimir promises to keep fighting the project if he is elected.

        ODOT officials were not available Tuesday to comment on whether it would be too late to stop the project when the new council takes office in December, a spokeswoman said.

        Other council challengers are inclined to let the project — in the works for three decades — proceed.

        “At this stage of the game, we can't afford not to,” council candidate Jim Hause said, because the storm sewers underneath Main are in such critical condition.

        ODOT expects to award contracts for the project, estimated to cost at least $12 million, in January, spokeswoman Janis Cravens said Tuesday.

        Construction on the two-mile stretch, which doubles as Ohio 63 west of town and Ohio 123 east of town, would start in the spring and is expected to take about two years, beginning on the far east portion, Ms. Cravens said.

        Main Street residents, including Mr. Casimir, mainly object to ODOT's insistence on removing on-street parking to make room for a center turn lane. They fear it will encourage more through truck traffic and bring that traffic too close to their 100-year-old- plus homes.

       



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