Long-Planned $30M Lytle Tunnel Rehabilitation to Begin Next Week

Ohio Department of Transportation officials have announced that work will begin next week on the $30 million rehabilitation of Lytle Tunnel.

Construction crews will begin work on Tuesday, May 26 to add ITS cameras, a fire detection system, upgrade tunnel lighting, repair existing concrete and tiling, upgrade mechanical and ventilation systems, install a new power supply and replace existing underground vaults under the Fourth Street sidewalk.

In addition to this, ODOT crews will move the tunnel’s ventilation system and add new access hatches to several locations so as to not interfere with future plans for Lytle Park.

The work will require Lytle Park itself, and portions of Lytle Street to be closed while construction takes place. Gary Middleton, ODOT District 8 Acting Deputy Director, says that the effort will take approximately two years, with completion coming near the end of 2017.

Over that period of time, the work is expected to cause some headaches for those driving in the immediate area. In particular, project officials are saying that they will go to great lengths to avoid impacts during major events like the All-Star Game, Riverfest and Oktoberfest.

While numerous small disruptions will occur, project officials have noted that the work will force an entire weekend closure of southbound I-71 and the southbound I-71 ramp to Third Street. The southbound I-71 ramp to Third Street will be closed at a later period for 20 consecutive calendar days. The longest closure off all, however, will be when the Second Street ramp to northbound I-71 is closed for 60 consecutive calendar days.

While some scheduling details have yet to be ironed out, Middleton says that a detailed road closure schedule will be released in mid-June.

The road closures will add to those already found all over the center city due to the huge volume of construction taking place that is adding hundreds of residences, hotel rooms, offices and introducing new public transportation and park amenities.

While officials at the City of Cincinnati have not made a specific statement on the matter, the road closures, once finalized, are expected to be posted and updated on RoadmapCincy.com.

The work may also require the closure of the eastern portions of the 2.3-acre park to be closed for up to 10 months.

“This essential project will complete a major rehabilitation of the tunnel and its mechanical and electrical systems, improve safety for drivers and first responders, and ensure future maintenance activities minimize impacts to traveling public and users of the park,” Middleton said.

While the work on Lytle Tunnel, which was originally built in 1970, will be largely unseen, the updates will bring the tunnel into compliance with current fire codes and design standards. It is also presenting a unique opportunity to make improvements to Lytle Park at the same time – an effort that Western & Southern Financial Group has been strongly advocating.

According to ODOT documents, the project is currently on-schedule, but is now estimated to cost approximately $8 million more than what was originally planned.

  • Matt Jacob

    Gotta say that I’m a fan of this new park design. Should make the whole park more usable while retaining many of the cool statues and memorials that are already there. In particular I like the idea of adding steps down to the Simpkinson Bridge/One Lytle Place to activate the back corner of the park better.

  • KeepReal

    Why is Abe being shuffled off to the secondary edge of the park? It’s great to (currently) see his awesomeness, from a distance, as one approaches the park from it’s main side, i.e. eastbound on 4th Street. Not happy seeing him relegated.

    • Adam Nelson

      He is at the ‘grand’ end of the forced perspective created by the landscaping, but I think I’m with you in preferring both Abe and the forced perspective switch sides. Also which way is Abe pointing in this? If he’s facing the park the forced perspective works but the street gets his backside. ……. interesting.

    • KeepReal

      So Abe would be turning his back on WHTaft? Hmm… what are the implications? Had (i.e. has) the Republican Party gone astray? What would Doris Kearns Goodwin have to say about that?
      Or: the forced perspective points to AL’s back? That would be weird.

  • Jack Klette

    The redesign looks nice, but frankly I have always thought the statue of Mr. Lincoln is out of place. I would much rather see him between the Suspension Bridge and the Underground Railway Museum placed up high on a column facing NKY. He would be the first thing you’d see coming North which is appropriate since he freed the slaves. Hopefully they could replace that lawn with a nice square built around the President. It would be beautiful and so ties into the museum. About Lytle Park, I’ve never understood why there wasn’t a statue of President Taft there. Seems like it’s obvious to me. But I hope they don’t move the statue of him at UC. That is too small and not statuesque enough. Please do a new one of him.