ODOT Looking For Public Feedback on Reworked Eastern Corridor Program

The Ohio Department of Transportation is looking for additional feedback related to transportation improvements for Cincinnati’s eastern neighborhoods and far reaching suburbs.

The survey comes after ODOT has said that they are backing away from original plans for the hotly debated Eastern Corridor project, which came under public scrutiny for its scope and potentially negative impact to established neighborhoods on the city’s east side.

While the project will most certainly not be moving forward as originally envisioned, public officials are still looking to get a grasp on what kinds of investments could be made to improve traffic congestion and mobility options.

So far, ODOT has held public meetings in Newtown and Mariemont, and will hold meetings in Anderson Township, Mt. Lookout, Fairfax and Mt. Washington in the coming weeks – the next of which will occur this evening, from 6pm to 8pm, in Mt. Lookout at Christ The King Parish Center at 927 Ellison Avenue.

Those unable to attend that or the other upcoming meetings, are being encouraged to complete an interactive web-based survey. Taking approximately five to 10 minutes to complete, the survey asks respondents to rank the importance of the types of transportation improvements needed for the corridor, while also asking for specific location-based improvement suggestions.

The survey and public feedback for this effort is focused on what ODOT calls Segments II and III of the project, and is not limited to those who live or work in the study area, but rather open to anyone who finds themselves passing through the area.

Early results from the survey show that respondents want ODOT to focus investments on improving public transit, biking and walking options, and travel time through the corridor. While the travel time option could mean many different things, it may be connected to the other two top rankings for multi-modal transportation enhancements.

Projects not specifically mentioned in the survey include the Oasis Corridor commuter rail line, which also has been on the ropes lately, and the Wasson Corridor, which is still unclear how it will proceed with respects to a trail only, or a light rail and trail combination.

As UrbanCincy wrote in June 2015, a new local access bridge crossing the Ohio River, from Columbia Tusculum to Dayton, KY, could also greatly help solve access and congestion issues on the east side of the region.

ODOT officials say that the online survey will remain open until Wednesday, June 15. After this evening’s open house in Mt. Lookout, the next meetings to take place in Fairfax and Mt. Washington will occur on May 4 and May 5, respectively.

Two Cincinnati projects make Sierra Club’s list of best, worst transportation investments

The Sierra Club has released their annual report ranking the best and worst transportation projects in the country. Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Project in the United States provides a brief summary of each project included in their list, and a description as to why the project received its ranking.

The purpose of the report, the Sierra Club states, is to bring light the more than $200 billion worth of transportation projects that advance each year, and identify which of those meet higher national goals of “reducing oil consumption, increasing safety, improving public health, and saving local, state or federal government – and citizens – money.”

The State of Ohio had only two projects that made it into the Sierra Club’s 2012 report, and both were from the Cincinnati region.

The first was the Eastern Corridor project which was identified as one of the nation’s worst projects, with the report stating:

The Eastern Corridor Highway in Cincinnati, Ohio was first proposed in 1999 when the price of gas was $1.14. The project is currently under study, with plans to convert a road into a 10-mile, four- to six-lane expressway. The Highway poses a significant threat to the scenic Little Miami River. The route parallels the river and plans to cross it in an ecologically threatened area, where numerous rare, threatened and endangered species live. Furthermore, the highway will slice the historic village of Newton in half, which would disrupt the community and its tax base, adding traffic and pollution. The village’s mayor has been an outspoken critic of the project. The highway project is expected to cost upwards of a billion dollars.

The second area project that made it onto the environmental organization’s list is the Cincinnati Streetcar, which they called one of America’s best transportation projects.

The Cincinnati Streetcar is a new electric streetcar project that will connect key communities in the city’s urban core while improving neighborhood accessibility, stimulating development, and creating jobs. The streetcar system will go from the River to the Zoo, University, and hospital area. There are currently more than 500 vacant buildings along the streetcar’s 4-mile route. The streetcar will help attract residents and businesses to these rehabbed buildings, putting people to work and boosting the city’s tax revenue. Streetcars will increase accessibility and active transportation in the region by creating denser, more walkable, mixed use development. The streetcars are designed to accommodate both wheelchairs and bicycles and will serve as a complement to the city’s existing bus transit. Construction began in February 2012 and the streetcar is expected to open in 2014.

The full report identifies a wide range of projects including highways, bridges, mass transit, active transportation, aviation, aquatic, and multi-modal investments. Projects of all varieties made it onto both the good and bad lists, but the Sierra Club largely favored transit and active transportation projects over highways and bridges.

“Americans are struggling with the health, climate, and economic costs of our oil-centered transportation system,” the report states. “Our transportation investments should provide an opportunity to further reduce our dependence on oil, reverse climate disruption, and save money. Because transportation infrastructure lasts for decades, the impacts of transportation investments are felt for many years to come, with huge consequences for America’s ability to move beyond oil.”