Nearly $4B in Work Progresses in Decade-Long Reconstruction of I-75 Through Hamilton County

In the early 2000s the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) developed plans to widen and modernize Interstate 75 between the Ohio River and Interstate 275.

The $531.7 million Millcreek Expressway Project was slow to commence because of state and federal funding problems related to declining gasoline tax revenue. In 2009 a $7 million overpass connecting Monmouth Street and Central Parkway (Phase 2) received federal stimulus funding and, without ceremony, kicked off what will be a decade of continuous construction.

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ODOT began reconstruction of I-75 in and around the Mitchell Avenue Interchange (Phase 1) in 2012. As of August 2013, all new retaining walls have been completed, the replacement Mitchell Avenue and Clifton Avenue overpasses are each about halfway completed, and final pavement has been poured on two access ramps.

The $53 million Phase 1 makes provisions for widening I-75 to four lanes in each direction, but the expressway will not actually be widened until Phase 5 rebuilds the I-74/75 interchange near Cincinnati State Technical & Community College.

Reconstruction of the Hopple Street Interchange (Phase 4), meanwhile, began earlier this year and as of August 2013 has taken on the chaotic character typical of urban expressway widenings. This project will radically remake the area, with Hopple Street passing for the first time above Central Parkway to meet W. Martin Luther King Drive at grade.

While most of the buildings near this interchange have been acquired and demolished, the nearby White Castle restaurant will remain unaffected as a “jug handle” is built around its south and eastern property lines.

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Although the overall widening and modernization work was thought to have been delayed, the program received a boost thanks to the Ohio Turnpike.

On July 22, 2013 Governor John Kasich (R) announced that $350 million of work on remaining phases of the Millcreek Expressway reconstruction project will be funded by the sale of bonds to be repaid by future excess Ohio Turnpike tolls.

Additionally, Kasich pledged $100 million in Turnpike funds to build a new interchange connecting I-71 and E. Martin Luther King Drive.

When combined with the $463.5 million Thru The Valley project and $2.7 billion Brent Spence Bridge project, the reconstruction efforts along I-75 through Hamilton County totals some $3.7 billion in work and are expected to continue for the next decade.

  • Nathan Strieter

    With 4B being spent on this and another 2B proposed for the “new” BSB, I would love to see some new transit thinking in the works. Ideally making everything south of Hopple a boulevard style 40mph road, allowing reconnection to the West side of the basin.
    Has anyone seen plans or knowledge regarding ODOT providing future space for light-rail to cross or run briefly parallel with 75 in the basin? I am especially interested in this with regard to a light-rail/streetcar connection using the old subway tunnel in a connection route from Downtown up to Northside. This route would require a crossing at some point and it would be great to plan for something like this or even something grander.

    • matimal

      It will have to wait until Kasich is out. He is violently anti-transit.

    • Nathan Strieter

      Good planning should never be put on hold because of impermanent idiots.

    • matimal

      I was referring to actual funding. I don’t think that transit is hopeless in Ohio.

    • Jake Mecklenborg

      ODOT created I-75 drawings with a light rail ROW next to them in 2008 or 2009. The ROW was not really integrated with anything you’re seeing built, but simply an outline of where it could be built. Near Mitchell Ave. it was on the north side of the Mill Creek with a station near Mad Anthony St. Another line heading northwest along I-74 was drawn on the east side of the highway with a station at Hoffner St. near the cemetery next to the SPCA. South of Ludlow Ave., where the two lines would join, the line was drawn in the space between I-75 and Central Parkway south to MLK, where the line would enter a new tunnel south of MLK until it joined into the existing subway tunnel.

    • Nathan Strieter

      Thanks, I remembered seeing the old drawings as well as the elevated rail drawings in the old Metromoves plans but I was hoping that with the work being done more thought had been given to the reality of rail in this area. (Especially with regard to the old tunnels – the streetcars purchased by the city are small enough to make the old tunnels functional and could be run similarly to light-rail at up to 45mph.)

    • Do the rail plans show up in any documents online? I’ve been through just about everything on ODOT’s website (which it looks like they finally updated with real design documents), but haven’t seen anything regarding rail.

  • Aaron Watkins

    Where are the sound walls for the West End? What a huge oversight.

    • Steven Fields

      Hmm When I drive through a city I want to see urbanity not a daymn wall.

    • Jules Michael Rosen

      The government should cater their building to the residents of the neighborhoods they are building through, not the drivers on the highway. The West End was torn apart by the building of the highway. Some 20,000 people lost their homes when it was built. It continues to harm the neighborhood by acting as a noisy obstruction just yards away from people’s homes. It should be soundproofed.

  • Eric

    I like this one…time to get away?

  • runofthemill

    Considering a move back to the hometown from Chicago. Been out to Portland and Seattle a handful of times. Been on public transit in all cities, and have always yearned for Cincy to have the same. The city has so much potential. Worth the move?

    • Jules Michael Rosen

      Cincy is building a streetcar!

    • runofthemill

      Yes, I’m aware of this, look how darn long it took just to break ground?! I can’t believe people are against annexing outlying parts around the city (even Norwood & St. Bernard) and building light rail. Don’t live up to the Mark Twain quote folks! Plenty of money for expressways though…which will need to be resurfaced every five years.

    • Jules Michael Rosen

      I don’t think those communities necessarily want to be annexed, although that sounds like a great idea. I wish we had light rail. I live in the city, and I sometimes go a month without using my car, so it’s definitely possible to live without a car here. However, I do share the frustration that it has taken entirely too long to get the streetcar rolling. It’s embarrassing.

  • Jules Michael Rosen

    I think you mean Monmouth AV. Monmouth ST is in Newport.