New Cincinnati Streetcar Development Map

The CincyStreetcar Blog has produced a new map of all the development that is taking place, being planned, or under construction along the proposed route of the Cincinnati Streetcar.

Click map image on right to open up large HQ version in new window.

My first two thoughts are: 1) there is a lot happening in our center city, and 2) much of what is happening is along the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar route and would more than likely be aided by high-quality transit service that connects the developments with additional residents, visitors, attractions, businesses and more.

Cincinnati’s I-75 is worst commute in Ohio; one of worst in Midwest

Cincinnatians traveling along the Interstate 75 corridor can now go to bed at night knowing that they drive the worst stretch of interstate in Ohio, and one of the worst in the entire Midwest according to a recent analysis by The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast ranked the nation’s metropolitan areas with the worst rush-hour congestion based on peak hour Travel Time Index (TTI) for each particular highway segment. Once the 75 worst metropolitan areas were determined, the worst highway in each area was defined according to the most hours of bottleneck congestion. For Cincinnati, I-75 racked up 86 hours of weekly congestion with the worst bottleneck occurring at Exit 10 (map) for southbound traffic. The worst bottleneck stretches on average some .46 miles, with speeds of approximately 21mph, and adding up to 16 hours of bottleneck time each week.

Worst Commutes in the Midwest:
#9 – Kennedy Expressway, Chicago (712 hrs)
#17 – I-494, Minneapolis-St. Paul (184 hrs)
#34 – I-94, Milwaukee (50 hrs)
#36 – I-75, Cincinnati (86 hrs)
#39 – Edsel Ford Freeway, Detroit (174 hrs)
#42 – I-90, Cleveland (59 hrs)
#45 – I-270, St. Louis (89 hrs)
#52 – North Freeway, Columbus (14 hrs)
#56 – I-65, Indianapolis (19 hrs)
#58 – I-70, Kansas City (47 hrs)
#67 – I-271, Akron (4 hrs)
#69 – I-75, Dayton (46 hrs)

What becomes particularly problematic for Cincinnati is ODOT’s approach to handling congestion. This past fall ODOT spokesperson Liz Lyons told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “the main gist is widening, adding more lanes for traffic to flow easier,” when it comes to handling the congestion and daily gridlock on Ohio’s worst stretch of interstate.

Cincinnati’s stretch of Interstate 75 is the most congested in Ohio, and one of the worst commutes in the Midwest. Interstate 75 congestion photos from Scott Beseler, Nick Daggy, and Jake Mecklenborg respectively.

The reality is that ODOT’s plan to add, at most, one lane of traffic to this section of I-75 will do nothing more than cause tremendous headaches over the course of its construction and not achieve any congestion savings. The direction of transportation planning in the 21st Century is all about mobility options. Our aging population and the new workforce both desire increased mobility options more so than the immediate convenience of an automobile.

European cities are far ahead when it comes to creating mobility options, but in America there are a few examples where mobility has been placed as the top priority when it comes to transportation planning. Interestingly enough, the cities that have done this are among those trying to make up the most ground on cities like older built cities like Cincinnati that have inherent mobility advantages.

Cincinnati’s extensive street grid and compact neighborhoods that were built prior to the Eisenhower Interstate System offer lots of positives upon which to build. Additionally, Cincinnati’s aging demographics and 21st Century employment sectors represent a real opportunity to not only reduce congestion, but remove the need for automobiles altogether. Multi-modal transportation options like the Cincinnati Streetcar will promote neighborhoods in which people can live closer to their jobs and be only a short train ride away from their job, shopping, or entertainment destination.

So the question is whether Midwestern cities like Cincinnati will continue to try to solve 21st Century problems with 20th Century solutions, or will policy makers here finally have that “ah-ha” moment and start planning our transportation networks around options?

Taco Azul to bring third taco truck to Cincinnati’s streets

Cincinnati will soon have yet another food truck operation when Taco Azul hits the streets of downtown Cincinnati, Northside, Uptown and more. Azul will be open wherever the nightlife is happening and will stay open until 3am serving Mexican food in a similar fashion to Los Angeles’ famous taco truck scene.

The news comes shortly after Polly Campbell wrote about Habanero Burrito Wagon (mobile catering truck) and Senor Roy’s Taco Patrol from the owners of Hyde Park Tavern. This announcement also comes just after UrbanCincy looked into the untapped nightlife street food market. During that same time Cafe de Wheels has taken to the streets and introduced some of the best burgers around town.

This now brings Cincinnati’s tally to three taco trucks, one taco cart, and a burger/cafe truck. Stay tuned to UrbanCincy for full details about Taco Azul in the coming days.

UrbanCincy honored in 2010 Best of Cincinnati Awards

In 2008 UrbanCincy was honored to not only be considered for the best blog in Cincinnati, but actually finish in the Top 5. The blog was nominated by CityBeat’s staff in 2009, and is again in 2010.

It’s a great honor to even be considered and I’m truly thankful to all of the readers out there who enjoy the hard work and hours put in by myself and UrbanCincy’s dedicated team of writers: Dave Rolfes, Jenny Kessler, David Ben, and Travis Estell. It is you, the reader, that keeps us going and keeps us motivated to do the work we do.

UrbanCincy has been nominated for best Blog and Website, and I have personally been nominated for best Local Activist and Journalist in the 2010 Best of Cincinnati Awards. I would like to encourage you to go out and vote for all those great businesses, places and people that make Cincinnati’s urban core great. Thanks, and here’s to a great year ahead.

SORTA re-elects board members

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) has named the 2010 board members that will oversee the operations and direction of Metro – Cincinnati’s primary bus operator. Both Chair, Melody Sawyer Richardson, and Vice Chair, William Mallory Sr., have been re-elected to their positions.

Richardson has served on the board since 2003 and has acted as SORTA chair since 2007 while Mallory Sr. has served as Vice Chair since 2008. During Richardson’s tenure as Chair, she has helped advance several initiatives including:

  • grow*Metro community involvement process to refine Metro’s capital plan
  • A new federal lobbying effort to secure funds for replacement of buses past their useful life
  • SORTA Board strategic planning process
  • Inclusive SORTA budget process that sought input from elected leaders and community partners
  • Diversification of Metro services through the addition of articulated (accordion) and hybrid buses
  • Expansion of the Everybody Rides Metro foundation

Also during that time Metro has faced extraordinarily difficult budget shortfalls due to what local leaders call a “failed” funding source and a difficult economy. As a result fares have been increased, service reduced, and ridership has even declined during this tumultuous time for transit agencies across the nation.

“Most people recognize the bus funding model is a failure,” said Cincinnati City Council member Chris Bortz in a recent interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier. “There are going to be those that are resistant to any new tax structure. But we’ve got to think through it.”

The solution, seen by many, is a county-wide funding structure instead of one that only focuses on Cincinnati’s Earnings Tax. As SORTA’s re-elected Chair and Vice Chair focus on long-term plans for the transit authority there needs to be serious discussions about how to permanently right this ship and make Metro a financially stable transit operator.

You can stay connected with the latest news and updates from Metro on Twitter @CincinnatiMetro.