$809M identified for extension of I-74 through Hamilton County

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) published its 2011-2015 Major New Construction Program List on December 9. The list included six funding allocations totaling more than $809 million of expressway work that will set the stage for the long-envisioned extension of I-74 through Cincinnati.

The money is being allocated through the veil of the controversial Eastern Corridor Project. $115 million has been budgeted for reconstruction of the US 32 – I-275 cloverleaf, grade separation of US 32 near this interchange, and modifications to Red Bank Road that anticipate its reconstruction as a fully grade separated expressway. Another $13.8 million has also been budgeted for the long-planned $366 million US 32 bypass and Little Miami River bridge between Red Bank Road and Interstate 275.

This partial funding of all segments of the Eastern Corridor Project on ODOT’s current Program List illustrates that the project is still very much on the table, and that ODOT will likely turn its full attention and funding toward the project after the reconstruction and widening of Interstate 75 is completed later this decade.

I-74 Extension Details
Many have suspected the use of the Eastern Corridor Project was being used as a veil for an interstate project, but until now there has been no financial backing to these claims. The extension of I-74, through Hamilton County, would be realized by upgrading US 32 between I-71 and I-275, and by upgrading other stretches of local expressways to interstate status and giving them the I-74 name. Once the extension is complete, I-74 would run from its current terminus at I-75 in Cincinnati to existing sections of I-74 in North Carolina.

In such a scenario, three miles of I-75 between Northside and Bond Hill would be co-signed as I-74, the entirety of the Norwood Lateral would become I-74, and I-71 between the Lateral and Red Bank Road would be co-signed as I-74. From that point, the planned “Eastern Corridor” US 32 bypass, which is being built to interstate highway design standards, can with the stroke of a pen become I-74.

Critical pieces of such a cross-county plan will soon commence construction as part of the I-75 Millcreek Expressway project. This year, the Millcreek Expressway project will fund $9 million in modifications to the I-74 Colerain Avenue interchange near Mt. Airy Forest. The nearby I-74/75 interchange in Northside, the present site of I-74’s terminus, is scheduled to be completely reconstructed in 2013. The I-75/Norwood Lateral interchange is scheduled to be rebuilt between 2016 and 2018.

Beneficiaries of an I-74 Extension
US 32 between I-275 and eastern Ohio, completed in the late 1990’s, was built to near-interstate specifications in anticipation of its future designation as I-74. In the fifteen years since its completion, it has attracted almost zero development along its more than 200-mile path. It is unlikely that replacement of its at-grade intersections with diamond interchanges will encourage increased private investment.

In the Cincinnati area, the most obvious beneficiaries of the Eastern Corridor plan, aside from those construction companies who would actually build it, are those who control tracts of land in Clermont County, who no doubt wish to develop large-scale sprawl along US 32 outside the I-275 loop. Such a roadway would only marginally improve the area’s access to downtown Cincinnati, and therefore strengthen the position of Kenwood, Blue Ash, and other suburban areas that compete with it for jobs and commerce.

The possible designation of the Norwood Lateral as an interstate would make its reconstruction a priority, and reconfiguration of its ramps could make possible the redevelopment of vacant land in Norwood and Bond Hill. Reconstruction of the I-71/Norwood Lateral interchange could accelerate the redevelopment of the Cincinnati Milacron site.

Potential Impacts
The US 32 bypass will negatively affect property values and the quality-of-life presently enjoyed by those who reside in the Newtown area. Additionally, the Sierra Club has campaigned against the highway’s Little Miami River bridge since the concept was introduced, arguing that its construction will negatively affect the river’s wildlife.

From the 1930’s on through the 1960’s, every mile of the 43,000-mile Interstate Highway System first appeared as a line on somebody’s map. In Cincinnati, remnants of abandoned subway right-of-way gradually became parts of what we know today as I-75, I-71, and the Norwood Lateral. The idea was to spread the population of Cincinnati into suburban areas. Another cross-town freeway in the form of I-74 will further depopulate the core of our region.

  • Adam

    I want to hate this, and in a way I do; seeing all this money thrown at more roads is frustrating. BUT the lateral is not the gem of a highway it once was and improving it and connecting it over to redbank will help several city neighborhoods – bond hill, roselawn, oakley, and madisonville will likely be better off for the project. Newtown will pay a very high price though.

  • http://www.urbanophile.com/ Aaron M. Renn

    Is this really needed? It would not have jumped out at me as something high on the Cincinnati transport needs list.

  • http://quimbob.blogspot.com/ Quimbob

    That curve by I-71 & Red Bank looks pretty deadly. 60MPH?

  • http://www.urbancincy.com/author/taestell Travis Estell

    It will be interesting to see if the news media and tea party groups–who are so outraged over the streetcar–will even make a peep in protest of the I-74 plan. After all, the streetcar is $128 million in comparison to the $809 million for I-74. Or are roads somehow exempt from “boondoggle” status?

  • Neil

    Given the amount of growth in North Carolina there is definitely a need for a better connection between Ohio and North Carolina, so I can see advantages for I-74. My brother lives down there and one has to travel on a lot of really back country roads just to get there from Southwest Ohio, its not convenient and also adversely affects commercial traffic and business between the two regions.

    However, putting 74 through Cincinnati is not good at all. The interstates have already caused far too much damage to what was once one of the country’s most densely populated cities. They really should just route it around the I-275 loop, and make the current I-74 into a spur route. People never learn in Ohio that urban expressways aren’t good for the cities they are rammed through.

  • Radarman

    Surely Governor Kasich will protest the use of public funds to speed traffic from sparsely populated southeast Indiana to equally sparsely populated south central Ohio. Surely.

  • L. Q.

    For more info on I-74 in North Carolina- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_74

  • http://www.urbancincy.com/author/taestell Travis Estell

    Neil:

    I still see little benefit in this I-74 upgrade, however, since US-32 is already built to near-Interstate standards east of Cincinnati. The only “new” portion of this I-74 plan is the connector road between the Red Bank Expressway and US-32.

  • http://www.cindaily.com Joe Wessels

    Jake et al.:

    Wonderful job reporting and getting this story on here. You guys have broken (as I Tweet’d just moments ago), what I think, is the biggest transportation story to hit this region in decades – that actually has money behind it right now. Some might argue the Brent Spence Bridge is bigger (it is certainly costlier), but that has yet to be fully funded and is years away from construction and completion.

    As much as it pains me to say it, journalism in this town is asleep. Thank the good Lord above that there are conscientious people like yourselves willing to look for and report on these important items. I sincerely hope that the legacy media takes this story and runs with it big time. I know I would have in my times as The Post. Good job and keep it up.

  • Matt Jacob

    For Ohio, the completion of I74 and the route it takes through Cincinnati means ensuring that a national artery runs through Ohio, specifically south-central Ohio, instead of northeast KY so that areas of south-central Ohio like Piketon and Portsmouth can become connected to the rest of the nation. Right now south-central Ohio is literally in the middle of nowhere, but with this artery running through the area it will at least be able to draw off the passersby. Ensuring that Ohio gets the artery alone probably justifies the cost for ODOT and the Cincinnati part of the project will cement that route once it’s completed.

    For Cincinnati, I believe the longterm benefits to the region being connected directly to North Carolina will greatly outweigh the relatively minor disturbance in Newtown. For installing a new interstate highway through the middle of the city, this plan really only calls for a name change of existing highways to interstate status and a new stretch of through Newtown’s undeveloped areas. Outside of Church St./Newtown Rd. and Round Bottom Rd. it doesn’t run into many developed obstacles. I think if they put an interstate exit near these two roads that Newtown could benefit from the interstate coming through more than it is hurt by it.

    Would the interstate designation mean that the Norwood Lateral and 32 will get more funding for repairs and improvements?

    Travis: I doubt you’ll hear much of an uproar about this outside of Newtown. The graph above demonstrates very well how small the streetcar and rail projects were in comparison to road projects yet they get many times the magnitude of media attention because they challenge the status quo.

  • http://www.hoperatives.com Tom Streeter

    Yeah, but they could route it around 275 and then just redo the interchange at US-32 and save boatloads of money. It works fine in Indy.

  • L. Q.

    ^Agree with Tom. You could probably save half a billion dollars by simply co-signing I-74 with I-75 to Fort Washington Way, then turning I-471 into I-74 to I-275 and taking I-74 out east only past the beltway.

  • DF

    In the TRAC, items 71,73 and 74 are part of the Eastern Corridor. Somewhere it is legislated that the new road is NOT to be interstate grade, nor I-74. It will be relocated SR 32, and be “controlled access” and not a limited access freeway. There are NO plans to reroute and resign I-74 on the roads indicated, and no work will be done to the Lateral (there is IMHO lots of work that will need to be done to bring that up to Interstate Standards). The speculation that an extension of I-74 is yours and is being picked up by others as fact.

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    Thanks for all of the comments thus far. I really don’t think the project is needed at any level, and in fact comes across as an antiquanted model of transportation planning. The U.S. cannot maintain its current interstate infrastructure. Therefore it should not be looking to expand upon it.

    The most striking thing here is that this project seems to be hidden in the cloud of the “multi-modal” Eastern Corridor Project. The public doesn’t know about it, and if they did, I think they would be outraged.

    Lets maintain the current transportation infrastructure we have, then expand the variety of transportation options available as we are able.

  • DF

    http://www.easterncorridor.org/pdfs/ROD_06_07_06.pdf

    Page 10:

    Type of facility proposed for the new roadway.

    Highway improvements
    along Red bank Road and SR-32 will not result in an interstate-type facility
    between 1-71 and 1-275. At the LMR crossing, the bridge will
    accommodate four through lanes of highway, rail transit, bikers, and
    pedestrians. See Figures 3.8a and 3.8b of the DEIS.

  • DF

    WHOOPS, that reference is on Page 25 of the PDF

  • Todd Portune tricked us …

    DF posted: “Somewhere it is legislated that the new road is NOT to be interstate grade, nor I-74.”

    Even if it is currently “legislated” as such, current legislators cannot bind the acts of future legislators. When these major pieces are built, the I-75 – Norwood Lateral – Red Bank Expressway string of concrete and interchanges will be re-designated as I-74.

    This has alway been the intent of the deceptive Eastern Corridor process: a new cross-region freeway flying-in under the radar disguised as “green infrastructure.” The highway guys have been very clever about it. They have made Cincinnatians believe that the new eight-lane dike-bridge through the Little Miami River flood plain was mostly for “commuter rail” and “buses” — oh, and maybe a few cars. Now we know where this is going.

    This project will have a very negative impact on eastern Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    “Interstate Type” in that document means nothing. It’s not a defined term. It could easily be interpreted as meaning not a typical interstate highway, which is only a highway. In that sense, the interstates outside Washington and San Francisco where Metro and BART run in the median are not “interstate types”.

    Also, pretty much anything can be designated as an interstate highway, since a waiver can be approved by the Federal Highway Administration. For example, there are still several draw bridges on the interstate system, and there are still some at-grade intersections in rural areas and western deserts.

    From Wikipedia:

    -I-70 uses part of US 30 along a surface road in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, to get between the freeway heading south to Hancock, Maryland, and the ramp to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This is probably the best-known instance of traffic lights on an interstate. There used to be a sign of a policeman pointing at drivers leaving the Pennsylvania Turnpike to enter US 30, saying, “You! Slow Down!” Local businesses have lobbied to keep the gap to avoid loss of business (Map).[6]

    -I-78 travels along a one-way pair of surface streets, 12th Street and 14th Street, in Jersey City, New Jersey, between the end of the New Jersey Turnpike Newark Bay Extension and the Holland Tunnel, which leads into New York City. Between the two aforementioned points are four signalized intersections.[7]

    -I-180 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has no parts built to Interstate standard; in fact the interchange with I-80 is just a simple diamond interchange with two traffic lights on I-180, however it is expressway-quality with a few grade-separations (Map).

    -I-585 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is cosigned with US 176, in which I-585 shields are present in beyond the point where it ceases to be a freeway, having passed through traffic lights. There also exists a sign that marks the road there as “I-585 Business Spur” and hence it is unclear whether that surface section of US 176 also belongs to I-585.

    -I-676 has a surface street section at the west end of the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, because of historically significant areas. Signage and the Federal Highway Administration consider I-676 to use the surface streets; the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Department of Transportation consider I-676 to be continuous across the Ben Franklin Bridge, even though the bridge, built in 1926, is not up to Interstate standards (Aerial photo).

    -I-690 in Syracuse, New York, has a traffic light for twelve days each year, for buses to carry Great New York State Fair attendees from parking areas across the road to the fair.

  • http://www.urbancincy.com/author/taestell Travis Estell

    DF:

    Also keep in mind that the Eastern Corridor website hasn’t been updated since 2006 and most of those documents are much older. Much of the information in Jake’s post came from the newly-released TRAC funding documents.

  • DF

    Jake, all of those are examples of interstate “ends” where the signs go on a bit further; or instances where the existing facility was “grandfathered” in. The new 32 will have grade intersections “superstreets” at the Old 74 intersection and Mt Carmel Tabasco Road; so no way they will accept that into the interstate system. Red Bank Road may still have grade intersections. They will not approve a waiver for a recently constructed facility.

  • DF

    @Travis: the TRAC says nothing about extending I-74, and the ROD even thought its old, is binding to the project even though it is not legislation, thru NEPA.

  • Neil

    Randy, can you give us a link to the project list which includes I-74’s extension on ODOT’s website if it’s available?

    I don’t agree with using the Eastern Corridor as a means to quietly start work on I-74 and completely agree that its deceptive policy. However, I am still supportive of I-74 because it is an economically needed link between two places that didn’t previously have one.

    In almost any other case I would be opposed to expanding the Interstate infrastructure. The Piedmont region of North Carolina as it stands has grown significantly since the Interstate was originally planned. There was no need originally for a strong infrastructural link between Cincy and the North Carolina Piedmont because the region was practically nothing but a few small towns immediately following WWII. Since then its the fastest growing region of one of the fastest growing states in the US. Basically there are a lot more people, industry and companies in that region that are disconnected from a good chunk of the Midwest due the unexpected growth of that state. Both personal and more importantly commercial links are needed. Now one area where I disagree with their plan is ONLY using an expressway link.

    Europe still has both expressways and trains. We really should be looking towards a multi-modal model, not one that relies too much on cars or trains. There are tons of areas where trains should be built and very few where a new interstate is needed. Due to the reasons I listed above, I-74 to NC (not through, but around Cincinnati) is one of those few. Hopefully in the long run there will be the willpower to also have a better train link as well.

  • L. Q.
  • Neil

    Thanks L.Q!

  • David M

    If this was just about making the route from 74 and 75 to 32 and 275 another cross-county expressway and if we were made out of money, it wouldn’t be so bad. There are stretches that could use safety-enhancements, but it is mostly a waste of resources since there is very little likelihood of a new magnet for growth to the east of Cincinnati. It is just too poor and culturally distinct from the rest of the region.

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    I do not believe there is significant freight truck traffic between Cincinnati and North Carolina. Therefore, the better investment for moving human capital would probably be high-speed rail that connects the Cincinnati region (serving as a gateway to the rest of the Midwest) to the northern portions of North Carolina. That would seem like a smart, long-term investment. One for the 21st century.

  • Nate

    does anyone know of any organized opposition to this yet? If not, who wants to help start some?

  • drew

    if coast and the naacp dont fight this like they have superior rail transit initiatives we will see what they are really about. people will spend 809 million on roads to return barely what is invested but not 128 million for a 15 to 1 return on investment they like throwing their tax money away so they can burn more gas once it goes up to the expected 5 dollars a gallon in a couple years in their gm subsidized socialist cars but not on efficient clean smog-less light rail or streetcars… well now these suburbans losers get exactly what they wanted out of hiding behind false responsible conservative spending while heavily subsidizing big oils roads for them….way to go your businesses are going to be exported out of the tri-state along with those of us in the core…if cincy goes to heck youre all coming with us :)

  • http://www.sibcycline.com/ddawson David Dawson

    This just won’t die! While I agree that 32 needs some upgrades to improve safety and traffic flow espeicially near 275, there is no reason for extenting I-74 other than to help spread sprawl into Clermont and Brown counties. Forty years ago “The App” was touted as bringing development and jobs to southern Ohio. I drive this road often between Cincinnati and near Athens… it has brought little more than a few McDonalds and gas stations. I foolishly thought we were probably done with new highway construction!

  • Bridgedude

    The idea of the subway was to provide a connective loop around the city that would hook up with existing passenger lines from Portsmouth, Lawrenceburg, Hamilton/Dayton, etc. and make it more convenient and seamless to get downtown. See the Bion Arnold report from 1910 which was the basis for the subway plan. The author’s claim that it was intended to spread population into the suburbs is baseless.

  • nick

    I’ve driven to the panhandle of Virgina many times and the proposed I-74 follows the route I take. I was surprised to actually hear this proposed. The route isn’t very congested except for getting out of Cincinnati. By far the greatest impact will be felt inside the I-275 loop. Other than that, it is already mostly four lane divided highway between here and there.

  • Neil

    Taking a look at the document L.Q provided I didn’t see anything listed about I-74 or IR 74 on the east side of Hamilton Co. Did I miss something? Where did the diagram that Jake Provided on the article come from?

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    Neil:

    As labled, both the graph and the map were produced by UrbanCincy team member David Cole. The map is used to show the route I-74 would take through Hamilton County as it makes its way to the eastern part of the region to eventually connect with I-74 in North Carolina as planned.

  • DF

    Then the map should be labeled as ‘speculation’, and not implied as an official plan.

  • Christian

    While I normally oppose new highway projects, I think this project makes sense as a long term investment for the region. Easy access to the eastern suburbs has lagged behind the rest of the city and the possibility of linking Cincinnati in the future to more regions can only help the city as a transportation center. Also, the route given in this article runs primarily in already existing routes meaning more money for some already congested areas of the city. As for comparing this money to the money for the street car project, just remember that this is coming from different sources and that the projects are happening on different time scales. I would be interested in seeing how the money is going to be spread out over time.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    Christian, the $35 million TRAC award for the Cincinnati Streetcar is coming from the same place — ODOT — as the funding allocations for the Eastern Corridor project. In fact that’s how UrbanCincy discovered that the Eastern Corridor project was being funded. For all their harassment of the streetcar at the Cincinnati Enquirer, nobody there bothered to simply look at ODOT’s project list and see what else in the area was awarded funds. And we’re all wondering why ODOT didn’t issue a press release on these Eastern Corridor allocations — it merely fuels our suspicions that they’re trying to keep this whole thing under the radar.

  • Bridgedude

    The funding is for Eastern Corridor Improvements, which have been in the planning stages for 10 years or more. The Red Bank Rd segment is being designed for 45 MPH and definitely not to interstate standards. And the TRAC projects are always announced with a press release or Media event.
    Also, ODOT only goes forward with projects with the consent of the local gov’t. There will be no I-74 through Cincy unless City Council approves it. Seems unlikely with Ms. Qualls running the Infrastructure Committee.
    Looks like you all have plenty of suspicion and speculation, but not much good information.

  • Neil

    Jake / Randy: Even if it was unintentional, the image provided above is a bit deceptive. The document looks a bit too much like an official ODOT document when it is not. Even though it is credited as not being one, the credits are small and not easy to read, and the source is cited as an ODOT document, but the original document sourced is not linked. This lead me to believe upon first glance that it was part of official documentation.

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    Neil:

    Thanks for the input. News organizations consistently produce maps and other graphics based on official data. As with any graphical representation there is some subjectivity to it, but it is in no way “deceptive” or unethical that our graphics at UrbanCincy are of better quality than those elsewhere.

    As for the source…the document was spelled out entirely in the post and it was linked to in the comment section. Journalistic ethics calls for you to cite the source of information (without plagarizing it), but no where are you required to hyperlink to it…if that were the case print publications would have been shut down for ethical violations long ago.

  • Tim Bonfield

    Nice job sharing the maps and the plans and the details. I have heard very little about this I-74 project. I found your posting very informative. So, thanks!

    However…bad job contending that this road project would be bad for our region. Not that I would have expected much else from an advocacy-based web site called “UrbanCincy.” At least you are open about where you stand.

    However, the difficulty of east-west travel here has been a problem for decades, and it’s about time to see things moving forward to improve that situation.

    None of your followers’ beloved train ideas would do the slightest thing to correct this concern. But then again, you don’t care. You think “sprawl” is bad, and that all outlying development is “sprawl.” You think people shouldn’t even be living in Clermont County, much less enjoying modern highway transportation. I find this amusing, since except for those living in downtown high rises, we all live in the “sprawl” of past generations — from Mount Adams (once mostly vineyards) to West Chester and beyond. All those noble urban pioneers are just fixing up yesteryear’s suburbs.

    Your group seems to think you should decide where people live (in big crowded cities) rather than the people deciding for themselves. You constantly bash modern homes and ‘vinyl canyons’, ‘McMansions’, ‘cookie-cutter’ suburbia, etc. As if long blocks of row houses and apartment buildings filled with identical floor plans aren’t ‘cookie cutter’ projects.

    But instead of condemning each others’ lifestyle choices, I say we should be much more respectful of how people invest their own money in housing, be it urban or suburban. And I say it is reasonable — even necessary — for various levels of government to serve the needs of the people as they make their choices.

    Like it or not, most people in our region live in houses and drive cars. They demand and deserve good roads.

    I’m part of that group. I think cars are terrific inventions, and I cannot wait to see electric cars get better so that the pollution/oil addiction issues get better. So I want better roads for those electric cars of the future, and I’m willing to pay my share of the taxes necessary to make that happen.

    I’m not against devoting some tax money to public transit, as well. But I do believe that folks who lament our region’s lack of light rail should give much more serious consideration to Roxanne Qualls’ recent rapid bus transit proposal. It’s the right idea for our area — specifically because it could handle east-west transit much better than rails ever will.

    But I’m not holding my breath. I think many UrbanCincy folks would prefer that Americans simply “wise up” and get rid of their cars.

    That’s not going to happen. No matter how much you rail against highway spending.

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    Tim:

    I do not know where you got this impression, but this column merely shares some information and insight about a potential I-74 extension.

    If you read UrbanCincy, you will realize that we report on road improvement projects fairly regularly. We understand that roads are a critical and valuable part of our region’s infrastructure, but we also realize that roads cannot be the only solution when it comes to dealing with moving people and goods.

    The UrbanCincy team also realizes that people choose their own lifestyles and that is fine, but we will also not bite our collective tongues when it comes to sharing information about what kind of lifestyle choices have negative impacts on our community and society.

    The problem we are facing now is that we are continuously increasing our roadway network while our population and workforce do not grow at the same pace. As a result, we have an unsustainable network of roadways that are not supported by the gas tax and are bailed out every year by Congress. Many of our roads are crumbling, bridges are behind on repairs, and our transport network is still overburdened. We must start thinking in a multi-modal mindset if we truly want to solve our transport problems (both financially and physically).

  • Tim Bonfield

    Randy,

    How does spending MORE money on non-roads fix the crumbling roads and bridges?

  • http://urbancincy.com/author/randysimes Randy A. Simes

    Tim:

    What will solve our problem with crumbling roads and bridges is if we quit burning money on expanding our road network and instead guide that money towards maintaining what we currently have. To then solve our congestion and safety issues we need to invest money into multi-modal transportation solutions.

  • matt

    I’ve read a number of these comments, and understand these points of view. I own and have invested over 3 million in real estate and 15 years of my life, specifically in Newtown. I read about and heard of this project for years, and have thought about the pro’s and con’s to the area I’ve invested my future toward. It is purely speculative to suggest “IF” 74 came through and connected 32 and red bank rd., that it would have ANY positive or negative impact at all. I drive from eight mile to downtown, and to 74, Hopple st. exit, and Mitchell Ave exits regularly. It takes less than 18 minutes in normal traffic to go from eight mile to Mitchell Ave via 32 to Beechmont to Columbia parkway, across I71 to I75 and past the I74 exit. The drive along the parkway is beautiful with views of the city and river the town is know for. The proposed connection though the Lateral and Red bank rd. would not save any time, and the scenery is industrial and dirty. To spend 809 million in a time when our state can’t pay its bill or maintain it current infrastructure, is insane.

    We also own numerous farms in the Clermont county area out route 32. To say this connection would benefit this area is completely absurd. This area and 32 is already served via 275, 471, and the previously stated route from downtown. People who wish to move these directions do some BECAUSE they wish to get away from the urban sprawl. They CHOOSE to live in the country away from what it is you all seem to think is necessary. We are a society of convenience.

    As to the ridiculous thought that this change would make any difference to commerce between Cincinnati and the Carolina’s, Really!! How can connecting 74 in the proposed route, from all the existing means, make a difference in a 8-12 hour drive. If I’m in Northbend and thinking I sure would like to go to North Carolina for the weekend, but darn that drive though Cincinnati, OH!, the heck, its just not worth the hassle. Seriously??

    Just for fun I Map quested the route I currently use through the city and the proposed route, via the lateral and Red bank. Granted it isn’t a Hwy yet so times on Map quest will change as the designation does, but it actually take 7 minutes longer with the current format. Where is the saving??

  • Mollie Labeda

    Personally, as someone who lives in the “Land that Direct Paths to Central Cincinnati Forgot”, I am looking forward to this. It is a pain to get anywhere from Eastgate/Amelia since you either have to take back roads (that slow to a crawl by Water Works and Newtown) or go around 275/471 to get downtown or anywhere in mid-city. In my 10+ years of living here I always wondered why 74 ended in the middle of the city instead of continuing through.

    It might relieve some traffic on 471 and 71/75 S during rush hour. This is needed more than a stupid useless streetcar.

    • Ed

      Actually, the Cincy streetcar will pay for itself with more than twice its cost in economic development. Now that people are driving less (driving peaked in 2007 and has been declining ever since) Ohio will very likely never get this its investment back from all of these projects, if implemented

  • Scott M

    I live very close to Red Bank Road. When this Eastern Corridor stuff was originally proposed it was conceivable that you could interstate (verb) that stretch between I-71 and the Little Miami, but now way too much stuff has been allowed in there with additional at grade junctions (some controlled and some not) (and too close to the lanes of traffic). You could possibly use a frontage road concept, but the new construction in the last decade makes it very very tight. I don’t think there is any real thought to making it an interstate, and that’s actually MORE of a problem, because where is all the traffic generated by the I-275 to SR32 link going to go? Answer: it’ll dump onto Columbia Pkwy or onto Red Bank. Neither of which are really capable of handling the increased volume. So really, sensibly, IF you’re going to build the SR32 link, then you’ve got to have four lane limited access connection into the interstate grid.

  • Michael

    I’ve driven in that area, before- Ohio 32 westbound, coming back from a day in Huntington, West Virginia, then taking I-275 north and westward to I-75 north, back home. Right now, there’s no major highway, running east out of Cincinnati, and I-74 ends at I-75, north of downtown Cincinnati. For many years, people have been talking about expanding I-74 eastward out of Cincinnati. The only city to route I-74, east of Cincinnati is Huntington, West Virginia. Yes, I’m all for extending I-74 east- take and upgrade the existing Ohio 32 into interstate status, split it off, no more than 5 miles west of U.S. Highway 23, north of Waverly, take it southeastward to Portsmouth, have it merge with U.S Highway 52, east of Portsmouth, upgrade U.S. 52 into interstate status and take it across the Ohio River into the western edge of Huntington, West Virginia. From there on, let WVDOT handle I-74, between Huntington and Bluefield. Getting back to the Cincinnati area, a compromisal agreement has got to be made as to how I-74 East will be built, between I-71 and the eastern corridor of I-275. That would also mean re-signing Ohio 562 into I-74 East, going to I-71. Right there, a discussion will be made as to how to build I-74 East in that area. As Scott put it, an Ohio 32 link will have to be built for the traffic that’s on the current Ohio 32, between I-275 and the I-71 quadrant, but I-74 East can be constructed. The main discussion is all about commuting, between Cincinnati and Huntington, but in order to buind some sections of I-74 East, some sacrifices must be made, because the highway must be built. The network of major highways in the Greater Cincinnati area, so far benefits other cities, like Indianapolis(Indiana), Dayton, Columbus(Ohio), Lexington and Louisville(Kentucky), and we can add Huntington(West Virginia) to that list, once I-74 East is constructed. This can also be good for bringing in business, along the highway, and that meand additional jobs as well. Case and point, something has got to be done and the highway must be built- proposing the extention of I-74 East has come too far to be abandoned, again.

  • Graeme Daley

    Randy, I’m surprised that you continue this false propaganda about the Eastern Corridor project. The map you have shown showing the Eastern Corridor labeled as I-74 all the way through Madisonville to the east side of town was created by David Cole, not ODOT (as you pass it off as)! This article and your efforts to block this visionary multi-modal transportation project are insulting. No where in your article do you mention the Oasis Line of passenger rail that would parallel the improved Red Bank “Boulevard” {Not Highway!) through Madisonville and the east side of town. You really need to stop with the lies and get to the truth about this project. Sincerely, G

  • http://www.UrbanCincy.com/ Randy A. Simes

    @Graeme: I appreciate your passion for this project, but to date the only money allocated for the Eastern Corridor project has been for highway construction. I do not think you will ever see the money materialize for anything other than a highway. Forget the BRT and the passenger rail. To see a full analysis of the Oasis Line you should give this a read: http://urbn.cc/p13c.

    Also, the map in no way pretends to be from ODOT. It clearly states in the bottom-left corner that it was created by David Cole. How can we be more clear?

  • Michael

    I’ve seen the map of where I-74 East will be routed, through the Cincinnati area, and it looks very logical. Take the Norwood Lateral and add an additional lane in each direction, between I-75 and I-71. Upgrade the I-71/River Bank Road interchange into interstate status. Convert both River Bank Road and Ohio 32(west of 1-275) into a six-lane highway for I-74 East. Reroute the existing streets as well as Ohio 32 in that area, during the upgrading pricess and build a concrete sound wall in that area. Replace all existing intersections of the soon-to-be-old Ohio 32 with highway interchanges. Route I-74 East with Ohio 32, east of I-275 and convert it into a six-lane highway, until at lease a mile east of Batavia, then upgrade the four lanes of highway, still replace existing intersections with highway interchanges and build a rest area in each side, between Batavia and Portsmouth. Split I-74 from Ohio 32, west of both Piketon and Waverly, taking 74 southeast, toward Portsmouth. Based on weeks of internet research, ODOT plans to build a highway bypass, around Portsmouth, which U.S. 52 will be routed on, but can take I-74 East, around Portsmouth, meet up with the proposed I-73, which will run north and south, in Lucasvlle. Routh I-73, I-74 and U.S. 52 on the same highway, make it six-lanes wide, three in each direction, with a concrete divider, between Portsmouth and the greater Huntington-Ashland area, route them across the Ohio River on a twin bridge into Hntington’s west side, going to I-64, then go west along I-64 to Kenova, then be routed south on West Virginia’s King Coal Highway, where WVDOT would take over all responsibility of the highway’s construction. The truth is in the Cincinnati area, existing roads, where I-74 East is routed(Norwood Lateral, Red Bank Road and Ohio 32), just need to be modified into a highway route, rather than to be built from scratch. The $809M, allocated for the highway’s construction, must be used to route I-74 East and to modify the existing roads into highway status. This can be done and it must be done, because Cincinnati lacks a major east-west interstate highway, going through the city. At the same time, I know all this discussion has to do with primarily making the interstate highway connection, between Ohio and the Carolinas, but from a more local standpoint, this should also be about making the interstate highway connection, between two major cities, namely Cincinnati and Huntington. I-74 East will bring in new businesses, along its corridor and maybe sprout some new housing for residents, too. Worry about passenger rail, later- extending I-74 eastward, through the Cincinnati area, holds more priority. One other thing, tractor-trailer hauling hazardous materials, should not be allowed on I-74, inside the I-275 beltway. The question is when does all the talking stop and the construction begin? The proposal of the Eastern Corridor has now come too far to be abandoned, again. The money is available, the talking needs to cease and desist and the construction needs to start, as soon as possible. The pros outweigh the cons on building I-74 East, through the Cincinnati area, so let’s get it overwith- worry about the impact of the Eastern Corridor, later.

  • Michael
  • Michael

    Never mind that last link- it was no good, but the map does exist.

  • Michael

    I’m going to try again with the link, if it works, this time:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_vXnjsNX3hQc/TUDUniietfI/AAAAAAAACWI/YYou-KF6KIc/s1600/I-74-Map.jpg

    I’ll try again, later, if this link doesn’t work. Otherwise, chime in with your thoughts about the map.

  • Michael

    The second attempt with the link works. Now, look at the map and chime in with your thoughts. The $809M in funds are available for the road and it must be built, but don’t be surprised if some portions are rerouted. The fact is the highway must be built, especially if it offers commuters a direct route, between Cincinnati and Huntington. I’ve done some more research, over the weekend and I-74 East might be routed onto Ohio 823, a.k.a. the Portsmouth Bypass, but more work and research must be done, too. I’ve just completed some research on U.S. 52’s bridge over the Ohio River, the West Huntington Bridge. In order to make I-73/74 connect with Huntington, an adjacent bridge will have to be built into an eventual four-lane twin bridge, connecting Huntington’s west side with the suburban village of Chesapeake, Ohio in Lawrence County. Between Huntington and Portsmouth, ODOT will also have to upgrade U.S. 52 into interstate status to carry I-73/74. Along the Portsmouth Bypass(Ohio 823), an interchange for the I-73 northward split will also have to be constructed(merge I-73 with U.S. 23 and convert it into a full four-lane freeway with interchanges, going north, toward Columbus). Getting back to I-74 East, route it adjacent to Ohio 73 as a four-lane highway, until reaching Ohio 32, then merge I-74 and Ohio 32 as a four-lane freeway with interchanges. I still think that to route I-74 East in the Cincinnati area, the Norwood Lateral should add an additional lane in each direction and if 74 is going to be routed along Red Bank Road and Ohio 32, west of I-275, it should be three lanes in each direction, and east of 275, still route I-74 East along Ohio 32 and keep it at three lanes in each direction with interchanges(replace the intersections with interchanges and eliminate the intersection traffic lights) until at least 1 mile, east of Batavia, then go to a four lane highway until a several miles west of Portsmouth, then back to six lanes. Still a rest area in each direction along I-74, between Batavia and Portsmouth, must also be built. It never hurts to do some research as to what I-74 East could become in Ohio, and there’s more than enough online resources to do some more study. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts after looking at this link:

    http://www.conway.com/oh/9706/

  • Michael

    Here’s another link, related to I-74 East:

    http://www.aaroads.com/high-priority/corr05.html

    I know this page is 6 years old, but I’m still looking for something more current or recent.

  • Derek Bauman

    So now its 3 years later and Kasich is allocating $440 million in Turnpike lease money to the Portsmouth By-Pass, all while we’ve now seen that ‘Peak Driving occurred in 2002. No matter, keep building new unsustainable highways….that’s the future. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/07/22/Governor-announces-plan-to-bump-up-road-projects.html

  • rehammmagdy

    ححح

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