Residents Take Stand Against Proposed Highway Through Cincinnati’s Eastern Neighborhoods

In December 2010, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) published its 2011-2015 Major New Construction Project List. The list included funding to resume study of the highway component of the controversial Eastern Corridor Project. Dormant since 2006, the sudden reappearance of the highway project alarmed area residents, more than 100 of whom gathered at the Madisonville Recreation Center on August 3 for a meeting of Cincinnati City Council’s Livable Communities Committee.

On display were ODOT’s two circa 2006 Tier 1 alternatives, one of which called for the complete replacement of Red Bank Road with a fully grade separated interstate-style highway. This drawing, seen for the first time by most in attendance, emboldened suspicions that the Eastern Corridor Project is in fact a veiled attempt to extend Interstate 74 across Hamilton County.

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“We urge ODOT to unbundle the Eastern Corridor projects and concentrate on providing transportation alternatives in this community, not another highway,” exclaimed one resident at the recent City Council committee meeting. “Reallocating resources to utilize the Wasson Line will produce more cost-effective transportation alternatives for thousands including Madisonville citizens.”

Citizen feedback generally welcomed improvements to Red Bank Road, especially a boulevard or parkway that might compare favorably to the more attractive roads in the area. Many also suggested development of better public transportation, especially implementation of light rail transit on the abandoned Wasson Road railroad.

Read UrbanCincy‘s exclusive in-depth analysis of the Wasson Line and Oasis Line.

Opposition to construction of an expressway in place of Red Bank Road was unanimous at the meeting, and citizen comments were followed by stern questioning of ODOT officials by City Council members Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan and Chris Bortz.

ODOT assured the committee that the Tier 1 alternatives on display would be reworked and that it will work closely with Madisonville Community Council and other neighborhood groups to ensure a favorable outcome. ODOT officials also remarked that the City of Cincinnati and other jurisdictions through which the Eastern Corridor Project will pass will have to approve ordinances to allow its eventual construction.