UC students working to solve Cincinnati’s urban issues

When it comes to finding solutions to fix the problems our city faces, we can’t overlook the talented minds found at the universities and colleges right here in our city. And for urban design issues, many of these minds can be found at the University of Cincinnati in the fields of urban planning, engineering, architecture and political science.

68 students in these fields have been working on solutions to problems in Downtown, Uptown, Northside, Camp Washington, and other Cincinnati neighborhoods recently, and many will be presenting their findings today at the Turner Building (2728 Short Vine, Corryville) from 1pm to 5pm.

One group focused on improving the interchange between I-71 and Taft/McMillan Streets in Uptown. Their plan adds a giant roundabout connecting Taft & McMillan and adding access to southbound I-71. Their plan also calls for converting McMillan Street through Walnut Hills from a one-way street to two-way.

“The chief part of our business district (located on McMillan Avenue between I-71/Gilbert Avenue and Victory Parkway) was harmed when the city designated McMillan and William Howard Taft as one-way streets years ago,” said Kathy Atkinson, president of the Walnut Hill Area Council. “People speed right through our business district. It’s no longer a destination due to traffic patterns. Top on our list is to have that changed.”

As bold as the students’ plan may sound, there are other, even bolder options for improving the urban landscape of Uptown. Several neighborhoods have been pushing for a completely new interchange to the north at Martin Luther King Drive. This would allow for improved access on the already auto-oriented MLK Drive, while taking much of the traffic demand off of Taft and McMillan streets. Both streets could then be converted to two-way for their entire lengths, making them more pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

Eventually, a streetcar loop could be added to the Taft/McMillian pair, connecting the Clifton Heights and Walnut Hills business districts together while also connecting those areas with the proposed north-south Cincinnati Streetcar line at Vine Street. New businesses and residents would be attracted to this energetic, accessible, multi-modal corridor.

Other students’ plans focused on Broadway Commons, the future site of Cincinnati’s casino; an area in Northside and South Cumminsville that will be affected by the Mill Creek Expressway I-75 construction project; and many other sites throughout the city. Learn more about the students’ plans by visiting the presentation tonight, or read more about the plans online.