Thursday, October 2, 2003

Project to cut off businesses

Sewer work will restrict traffic to Madeira's shopping district

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MADEIRA - A $3.4 million sanitary sewer project that starts construction in mid-October will put a squeeze on access to the heart of the city for 10 months.

Residents say they might go elsewhere to shop, and business owners along Miami and Railroad avenues are anticipating a temporary drop in customer traffic.

At the same time, city officials are warning rush-hour motorists from other communities who use Madeira as a cut-through to the interstate to stay out - unless they are coming to shop.

"We want to encourage people who use our business district to continue to do so," City Manager Tom Moeller said. "But, we are trying to lessen the impact by encouraging people using Madeira as a cut -through to stay out."

He said traffic will be maintained, but limited in an area that sees about 18,000 cars a day.

"I guess I'll go to another Kroger. I don't know," said long-time resident Sue Sutton.

Jean Sponsler, second vice president of the Madeira Woman's Club, said the lengthy construction is bound to chase customers away from the club's Clothes Closet. The used clothing boutique at Miami and Railroad avenues raises money for community-wide projects.

"Some of the people bringing things in are a little older. There's no parking in front. We need to have access to our back parking lot. We think it is really going to deter sales," Sponsler said.

Construction starts with a short segment at Dawson Road and Miami Avenue around Oct. 13 and will jog up Railroad Avenue and east on Laurel Avenue, Moeller said.

Sewer line replacement then begins on Miami Avenue at Railroad after the first of the year, and will turn west on Euclid Avenue for less than a block. Weather permitting, the project should be finished next August, Moeller said.

The sewer line replacement is part of a court order requiring Hamilton County to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows into storm sewers and creeks. It also is meant to increase capacity of the sanitary sewer system to stop flooding during severe rains, Moeller said.

Mike Wessel, co-owner of Choo Choo's Restaurant on Railroad Avenue, is trying to look at the bright side, even though his customers might have to search harder for parking spaces when they drop in for a sandwich and a beer.

"Frankly, we really don't know how it will affect us," Wessel said. "From what I gather, it needs to be done. It really floods bad from the gas station back to here - a half foot of water at least."

He's eager to have the project finished because it will signal a new beginning for Choo Choo's. He plans to expand and spruce up his outdoor seating area, but can't start on it until the road is repaved.

"Road construction is never good until it's finished," he said. "But, we're kind of excited about it because of next year what it will bring."


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