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.

The failure of asphalt only congestion solutions

First instinct may tell us that widening a congested highway will help reduce traffic congestion, but the reality is quite different. Highway widening projects not only create additional congestion during the construction work, but also increase the highways usage once work is complete thus contributing to the cycle of congestion.

Cincinnatians are soon to experience what may be the most tumultuous highway construction period ever. Interstate 75 will be reconstructed and widened roughly from the Norwood Lateral to the Ohio River including the Brent Spence Bridge and its approaches. This construction work will cost billions of dollars and create a decade-long nightmare for Cincinnatians with no other commuting options than their automobile.

Brent Spence Bridge approach photo by 5chw4r7z.

Unfortunately the “no pain, no gain” saying doesn’t fit here, as the OKI Regional Council of Governments has previously studied and determined that the reconstruction effort will bring I-75 from a Class D level highway to a, wait for it, Class D level highway once it is complete.

There are two primary reasons for this: 1) the work being planned now will take more than a decade to complete and by that point traffic demands will increase and call for additional capacity not being anticipated now, and 2) the completed improvements will encourage additional drivers to take the heavily traveled corridor instead of taking what may be less direct side routes. The second factor is often experienced in its inverse when people take less direct routes to avoid what may be perceived as a more cumbersome route due to congestion or tolling for example.

In 1942 Robert Moses noticed that the highways he had built around New York City in 1939 were somehow generating greater traffic problems than had existed previously. Since then, the phenomenon has been well documented, most notably in 1989, when the Southern California Association of Governments concluded that traffic-assistance measures, be they adding lanes, or even double-decking the roadways, would have no more than a cosmetic effect on Los Angeles’ traffic problems. -Andres Duany in Suburban Nation

Cincinnatians should learn from Atlanta where they have mastered the art of expanding highways to unbelievable measures. The infamous “Connector” running through Midtown and Downtown Atlanta carries both I-75 and I-85 traffic and currently has 14 lanes of moving traffic which is being widened to include an intricate system of parallel roadways and ramps that bloat the stretch of highway to some 20 or so lanes.

The “Connector” through Midtown Atlanta as it approaches Downtown on a typical evening commute.

But even with the large vehicle capacity, through truck ban, HOV lanes, and parallel roads the highway is still a congested mess each rush hour and often throughout much of the day (including weekends). The problem in Atlanta is that their rail system, MARTA, does not run along either the I-75 or I-85 densely populated and traveled corridors.

When planning for the reconstruction of I-75 through Cincinnati, community leaders need to think beyond the asphalt and realize that additional transportation modes are what will ultimately reduce congestion along the I-75 corridor. Light rail right-of-way is reportedly being planned for in the redesigns and needs to be a serious priority of the effort. It would be short-sighted and misguided to attempt to ease congestion by only addressing one mode of transportation.

Madison Road getting $5.76M makeover through Oakley

The City of Cincinnati will begin work on Madison Road from Ridge Avenue to Oakley Square’s eastern edge at Allston Street (map) this February. The work, valued at $5.76 million, will be performed by Adleta Construction and last through November 2010.

Just over $4 million will come from Cincinnati Water Works for the installation of new water mains according to Cincinnati Department of Transportation & Engineering (DOTE) officials. Concurrently, another $1.54 million will be invested by the City for additional infrastructure improvements to the stretch of roadway.

“The project improves the geometrics of the intersection of Madison Road and Ridge Avenue to allow all vehicular turning movements to maneuver safely and decrease accidents,” said DOTE Senior Engineer Danny Jones who also stated that the project is in coordination with the Kennedy Connector plan.

The City will also make streetscaping improvements in the Oakley Business District that will include the following in addition to new sidewalks, walls and steps under the railroad overpass on Madison Road.

  • Sidewalk & Curb Replacements
  • New Street Trees
  • Installation of Decorative Signs & Meter Posts
  • Pedestrian Level Lighting

During construction City officials state that one lane of traffic will remain open in each direction along Madison Road, but encourage drivers to use extra caution and reduced speeds through the area.

Oakley Business District photo by reyerd on Flickr.