Episode #40: Fort Washington Way

On the 40th episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we are joined by John Schneider. Although he is now widely known for his involvement in rail transit projects, Schneider was also one of the fathers of the massive Fort Washington Way rebuild that began in 1998.

Long-time UrbanCincy readers may remember David Ben‘s four-part series on Fort Washington Way, covering the many forward-thinking decisions made by project planners. A few of these include shrinking the highway’s widthbuilding the Riverfront Transit Centerbuilding new water, sewer, and fiber optic infrastructure, and adding support for “caps” which may be added in the future.

We discuss some alternative plans that were considered, such as rerouting I-71; the limitations that were placed on the project, including the need to reuse the existing Lytle Tunnel tubes; and how the stadiums, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and The Banks came into the picture. Finally, we speculate on the future usage of the Riverfront Transit Center, the future of USBank Arena, and when/if the highway will ever be capped.

You can thank Congress for all those tolls that will soon hit the Cincinnati region

This should be a wake-up call for not just the lawmakers who have failed to raise the gas tax since 1993 or peg it to inflation, but also every voter. Locally we hear constantly from the group opposed to the use of tolls to pay for the Brent Spence Bridge or I-75 reconstruction, but the Highway Trust Fund has been bankrupt for many years and surviving on bailouts from Congress year-after-year.

Yes, of course it’s far past time to raise the artificially low gas tax, but it is also time to change the way in which we collect funds to maintain our system and add to its capacity. Instead of a simple tax on gasoline consumption, we should move to a tax that charges people based on how much they use our roadways, not how much they consume gasoline. More from The Hill:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday moved up its projected bankruptcy date for the trust fund that is used to pay for road and transit projects, saying it will now run dry by the end of August. The DOT has warned that the transportation funding shortfall could force state and local governments to cancel infrastructure projects scheduled to begin this summer because federal money will not be able to assist with construction costs.

The Highway Trust Fund is normally filled by revenue collected by the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax. The gas tax has not be increased since 1993 and infrastructure expenses have outpaced receipts by about $20 billion in recent years as Americans drive less frequently and cars become more fuel efficient. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that lawmakers will have to authorize $100 billion in new spending in addition to the $34 billion that is expected to brought in annually by the gas tax to approve a new six-year transportation bill, which is the length being sought by infrastructure advocates.

Episode #23: Cincinnati’s Transportation History

UrbanCincy Podcast #23 RecordingOn the 23rd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we’re joined by Jeffrey Jakucyk to discuss the history of several of Cincinnati’s transportation systems.

We use Jeffrey’s website, Cincinnati Traction History, as the starting point for a discussion on Ohio’s interurban railways and the role they played as urban development patterns changed. We also use Jake Mecklenborg’s website, Cincinnati-Transit.net, as the foundation for a discussion on the history of Cincinnati’s interstate highways and proposed-but-never-built expressways.

Finally, we discuss the future of these transportation systems, with the upcoming I-75 reconstruction and several proposals for commuter and intercity rail in the region.

Kennedy Connector construction underway

Construction began this week on the Kennedy Connector, a roadway extension designed to improve access to I-71 from the neighborhoods of Oakley and Pleasant Ridge. The roadway will also provide access to the Oakley Station development now under construction. More from Building Cincinnati:

The first phase of the two-year, $30 million project began in three locations: On Ibsen Avenue, which will be closed between Marburg Avenue and Ridge Road and will be open on weekend afternoons; on Ibsen Avenue between Ridge and Madison roads, which will be closed until crews can install two new water mains later this summer; and at the intersection of Duck Creek Road and Kennedy Avenue, where a temporary roadway is being built so that construction crews can eventually build the new extension of Kennedy Avenue.

Kasich supports tolls to fund new Brent Spence Bridge

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) announced he supports using tolls as a method to fund the Brent Spence Bridge project. The plan—to build an additional double-decker bridge to supplement the current bridge—has not yet been funded and isn’t expected to be completed until 2023. Julie Janson, leader of the Build Our New Bridge Now coalition, tells the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“We are grateful that Gov. Kasich sees this project as an important investment for the economic development of our region,” Janson said Thursday. “Tolls are one of many funding options being considered, but until the funding plan is developed, there is not a preferred funding option.”