On Friday, April 19, UrbanCincy partnered with the Niehoff Urban Studio and hosted an event that showcased student work and included expert analysis and discussion of urban mobility issues in Cincinnati.
Approximately 100 people showed up to the collaborative studio space in Corryville to view the student work, and learn more about the challenges facing Cincinnati today and in the future.
Metropolis & Mobility: Bus Rapid Transit and Bikeway Planning focused on five proposed bus rapid transit and three bikeway corridors throughout Cincinnati. Engineering and planning students were paired together in groups to examine the issues and propose implementation strategies for those potential projects.
Students examining bus rapid transit focused on the Reading Road, Downtown, Hamilton Avenue, Vine Street, and Montgomery Road corridors. The students studying bikeway planning, meanwhile, examined the Wasson Way and Western Riverfront Trail and Mill Creek Greenway.
Those who attended the event were also able to vote on their favorite project, which will then be profiled right here on UrbanCincy.com in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please enjoy the video put together on the Metropolis & Mobility event by our contributing videographer Andrew Stahlke.
Residents began to notice the meters being vandalized in November 2012 when the city initially announced its intentions to lease its parking system to a private entity. The city insists that the vandalism and parking privatization is not connected. However, UrbanCincy’s investigative sleuthing has found that although the meters are not connected to city sabotage, they are instead connected to a lone vigilante who wants nothing more than to park…for free!
“You shouldn’t have to pay to park,” exclaimed the culprit from a shadowy street corner.
The vigilante who goes by the name Free Space Man, agreed to speak to UrbanCincy only after we agreed to pay for his two-hour metered spot on Liberty Street so that he would not harm the meter. The vigilante described his day-to-day activities, meticulously choosing the meters to be vandalized and deciding on the best time of day to strike.
He says he travels the country, setting out to rid the world of working parking meters so he can park his 2007 Range Rover at metered spots for free. He came to Cincinnati when he heard about the parking privatization.
“I didn’t even know you had meters and now the city is selling them off. Parking should be free…why do they even charge? That’s the real crime,” Free Space Man said as he sliced off another parking meter at the corner of Elm and Green Street.
Attempts at trying to inform the vigilante on the revenues parking brings in to the city and how it allows businesses to turnover spots for patrons seemed to fall on deaf ears with this eccentric individual.
The vandal disclosed that his most brazen act of social defiance was in San Francisco, where leaders there attempted to install smart parking meter technology. One day, shortly after the new meters installation, a parking meter head was found at the foot of the mayors’ bed with coins still rolling out from its receptacle.
“That man was a menace to our town,” disclosed Tom Delegado, the mayor of San Francisco City Hall on foursquare. “He’s a terror to parking enforcement everywhere!”
Officials who have dealt with the villain have described him as squirrely and demented, and warn that the only defense measure is to throw copies of Donald Shoup’s 763-page book, The High Cost of Free Parking, at the bandit until he finally flees to another town, hopefully never to return.
Woodward is a graduate of Cincinnati State Technical & Community College’s audio/video production program. Since then he has done video production work for the Cincinnati Reds, worked as an assistant camera operator for the failed Queen City reality show, and currently works full-time as a photographer for Fox 19, WXIX.
The video showcases scenes of Cincinnati’s skyline from Devou Park, views from the Carew Tower Observation Deck, Lytle Park, Mirror Lake in Eden Park, a bustling Findlay Market, the newly renovated Washington Park, Sawyer Point, Great American Ball Park, The Banks, Smale Riverfront Park, and various shots from the Ohio River.
The video showcases construction work at the $400 million Horseshoe Casino, Little Miami Scenic Trail, Eden Park Overlook, boats on the Ohio River, circus training at Burnett Woods, freight activity at the Queensgate Railyards, construction of the new $66.5 million Waldvogel Viaduct, fans at Great American Ball Park, and many other scenes from around Cincinnati.
Stahlke is currently enrolled in the Masters of Community Planning program at the University of Cincinnati, and originally studied civil engineering at Case Western University.
The video, entitled Paths and Nodes: Cincinnati, attempts to capture the life of the city as people and machines move about, and was shot in early fall 2012. It is a nearly three minutes in length, and features music from Little People.
In the early 2000s the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) formulated plans to rebuild and widen Interstate 75 between the Ohio River and I-275. The overall plan was divided into three project areas: The Brent Spence Bridge, Millcreek Expressway (Downtown north to Paddock Road), and Thru the Valley (Paddock Road north to I-275).
Originally all fifteen miles of work were expected to be completed by 2020, but ODOT’s financial crisis has meant just three of the 17 phases comprising the Millcreek Expressway and Thru the Valley sections have commenced construction. The complex character of the planned reconstruction means some phases must be built before others but little benefit to safety and traffic capacity will be realized until nearly all sections are complete.
September 2012 I-75 reconstruction photographs by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.
In short, work currently underway will build retaining walls and build new overpasses for an expanded highway, but the expressway itself cannot be widened in these areas until adjacent phases are completed. So improvements currently under construction at Mitchell Ave. might be decades old before they are put to full use – or worse, these future phases might never be built.
Thus far, ODOT has only completed the $7.1 million second phase which rebuilt the Monmouth Street overpass in Camp Washington. Originally planned to be built as part of Phase 5 (Hopple Street to Mitchell Avenue), the Monmouth Street Overpass was deemed “shovel-ready” and funded through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The $53 million reconstruction of the Mitchell Avenue Interchange (Phase 1) began in 2011. Construction crews are presently demolishing the 57-year-old Mitchell Avenue and Clifton Avenue overpasses and preparing the right-of-way necessary to widen I-75 from six to eight lanes.
ODOT has scheduled a summer 2014 completion for the Mitchell Avenue work.
Modification of the Colerain/Beekman/I-74 Interchange (Phase 3) also commenced in 2012. This $13 million project is also currently taking place, and is also scheduled for completion in 2014.
An ODOT official explains what led to the financial troubles of ODOT at a Transportation Review Advisory Council meeting in 2011. Video by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.
These delays in work on I-75 in Cincinnati illustrate the central problems with state and federal gasoline taxes: the taxes are not automatically adjusted with inflation, causing revenues to drift downward over time, and proceeds fall when high gas prices motivate people to drive less. Until either or both gasoline taxes are raised, or ODOT identifies new funding sources, reconstruction and widening of I-75 will proceed at a glacial rate, and drivers will realize little benefit from completed early phases.
The Western & Southern Open is taking place right now, and a men’s and women’s champion will be crowned this weekend in what has become one of the world’s top ten tennis tournaments.
Once finished, the tournament will have drawn hundreds of thousands of tennis fans to Mason, but more importantly, it will have given Cincinnati exposure to millions of television viewers around the United States and the world.
The tournament is a huge regional draw, and it gives the region an annual chance to make its pitch as to why people should visit, invest, or move to the region. This year, the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau decided to build off of Lonely Planet’s choice of Cincinnati as one of its top travel destinations for 2012. Unfortunately, however, the 30-second commercial does not come close to selling the narrative written by the independent travel guide.
There was no mention or view of the Contemporary Arts Center in the recent Cincinnati USA television commercial. Photograph by Thadd Fiala.
“Seen Cincy lately? The pretty city on the Ohio River – off the main cross-country interstates – gets bypassed by many road trippers, but it’s quietly transformed itself in the last decade into a worthy weekend getaway,” Lonely Planet wrote about Cincinnati. “Life centers around the river – much which can be seen by foot: river walkways are best on the Kentucky side, reached via a couple bridges including John Roebling’s Suspension Bridge (a prequel to his famous Brooklyn Bridge). Narrow, twisting (and steep) brick roads of the Mt Adams district lead past 19th-century Victorian townhouses and the free Cincinnati Art Museum, while the once-dangerous, emerging Over-the-Rhine, just north of downtown, is home to the Findlay Market and a sprawling collection of historic Italianate architecture.”
After reading that, someone unfamiliar with Cincinnati may be intrigued to visit the city to experience its architecture, waterfront, historic neighborhoods, and judge the stated transformation first-hand. What Cincinnati USA’s television spot showcases (see below), however, is the tried and true regional selling cards to families looking for an affordable weekend getaway.
There is nothing wrong with selling a good product to a captive audience, but if Cincinnati wants to start attracting new people and new interest, it will have to do something new.
If Cincinnati USA wants to build on the Lonely Planet mention, then they should sell the region on what Lonely Planet is pitching. Show the millions of tennis fans a scene from Over-the-Rhine on a Friday evening, Fountain Square on a Saturday night, the twisting streets of Mt. Adams, the University of Cincinnati’s Main Street, people biking across the Purple People Bridge, and shoppers at Findlay Market on a Saturday morning.
Fortunately, the Cincinnati USA commercial did pay attention to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which was prominently mentioned in the Lonely Planet write-up.
Cincinnati has always been an affordable place and a great place for families. This narrative has been perfected over many decades. This strong calling card should not, however, preclude the region from telling the world about a new narrative that has come to life over the past decade. It’s a story about a resurgent city focused on youthful energy, innovation, independent thought, music, and a unique urban core that is hard to match anywhere in America.
Findlay Market has been a Cincinnati landmark for 160 years. Over that time it has established itself not only as a destination for great food, but also as an incubator for great food talent.
Throughout the public market’s history, it has served as the starting point for businesses and business models that have gone on to permanent operations elsewhere throughout the city. Most recently those examples include Eli’s BBQ, Taste of Belgium, and Pho Lang Thang.
“Cincinnati Deconstructed is essentially a video series profiling the people behind the food scene in Cincinnati,” explained producer Courtney Tsitouris. “But it’s really more than that. It’s a medium we use to tell stories – and to connect every day people to the chefs, farmers, restaurateurs and business owners who enrich our lives as members of a community.”
Tsitouris went on to say that much of the early focus of the Cincinnati Deconstructed series has been on Over-the-Rhine due to its resurgence as of late, and its overall importance to the region.
“It’s [Findlay Market] an incredible food hub where farmers, merchants, shoppers and restaurants all become inter-connected,” Tsitouris told UrbanCincy. “And because the market attracts all walks of life, it provides a brilliant sort of convergence of food, culture, art and conversation unlike anything we get to experience at a chain grocery store.”