Categories
Development News Transportation

First Eastern Corridor open house raises additional questions about plan

First proposed in the late 1990’s, the multi-modal Eastern Corridor plan concluded its Tier 1 planning in 2006. After four years of inaction, planning for commuter rail on the Oasis line resumed in May 2010. Tier 2 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and preliminary engineering is currently underway and preferred alternatives will be determined in 2012.

As the plan moves forward, project leaders are holding three community open houses this week to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the project and offer feedback at the midpoint of this planning phase. But because there will not be any official decisions concerning track alignment, vehicle type, etc., until 2012, those who attended the April 5 open house at the Leblond Recreation Center on Riverside Drive were frustrated by the inability of planners to answer specific questions.

The primary concern of open house attendees was the proposed use of diesel locomotives. Area residents are familiar with the sound of the line’s periodic freight trains and the Cincinnati Dinner Train, and fear that frequent high-speed diesel commuter train service will significantly impact their neighborhoods. Most expressed that they would be more welcoming to the proposed commuter service if it took the form of electric light rail or modern streetcar technology similar to that of the proposed Cincinnati Streetcar.

Several concerned citizens, including Arn Bortz, Managing Partner of Towne Properties, observed that the Oasis Commuter Rail is designed to serve far eastern Hamilton County and Clermont County to the detriment of those who live in Cincinnati. Thayne Maynard, President of the Cincinnati Zoo, said that he moved to Newtown to be close to the Loveland Bike Trail, and is worried that the Oasis commuter rail might scuttle plans for the Ohio River Trail between Downtown and Lunken Airport.

Planners assured those in attendance that “No Build” is a possible outcome of the Tier 2 work, in which case all of these concerns can be forgotten. But the completion of Tier 2 work will not determine how capital funds are acquired or which local entity will operate the line. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) is the most likely operator. With the vast majority of SORTA’s funding coming from a .3% Cincinnati earnings tax, it appears that a special source of revenue will be needed for the Oasis Line as it is expected to terminate near I-275 in Clermont County.

Further complicating the issue, UrbanCincy investigated the Eastern Corridor plan in August 2010 and discovered several significant flaws that have yet to be addressed by project planners.

Two more open houses are scheduled to be held. The first will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at the R.G. Cribbet Recreation Center (map), and the second on Thursday, April 7 inside the Milford High School cafeteria (map). Both open houses will take place from 5pm to 8pm, and will include an open comment/Q&A session beginning at 7pm.

Eastern Corridor Open House photograph by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.

Categories
Business Development News

Google updates aerial imagery of Cincinnati region

Google has updated its aerial imagery for several major cities throughout the United States including Portland, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati.  The new imagery appears to have been taken over the summer.  Observers in the nation’s capital have been able to narrow it down to as precise as Sunday, August 29 between 1:00pm and 1:35pm.

Like many other cities around the country, the new aerial imagery for Cincinnati illustrates much of what has changed over recent years.  New construction projects are visibly taking place while others have been completed or are nearing completion in their aerials.  In addition to capturing the changing urban landscape in Cincinnati, the new imagery is also much crisper than previous versions.

Below is a sampling of 20 sites around the city that illustrate the aforementioned changes.  Enjoy!

Categories
News

This Week In Soapbox 7/28

A day late on this week’s TWIS post, but you can read about a new “green” restaurant in historic Columbia Tusculum, the $35 million renovation of Hughes High School uptown, Nky’s Riverfront Commons plans and progress, nonprofits getting a $2.1 million boost from the Cincinnati Empowerment Corporation, new discussions surrounding The Banks development, and the newly signed tenant for what will become Cincinnati’s tallest skyscraper.

If you’re interested in staying in touch with some of the latest development news in Cincinnati please check out this week’s stories and sign up for the weekly E-Zine sent out by Soapbox Cincinnati. Also be sure to become a fan of Soapbox on Facebook!

TWIS 7/28:

  • Green Dog Cafe to open in historic Columbia Tusculumfull article
  • $35 million Hughes High School renovation restoring Uptown landmarkfull article
  • Northern Kentucky’s Southbank Partners raises over $200,000 for Riverfront Commons projectfull article
  • Rethinking The Banksfull article
  • Cincinnati Empowerment Corporation awarding millions to local nonprofitsfull article
  • Great American Tower at Queen City Square reaches 80% occupancyfull article
Categories
Development News Politics

Building a great city

A recent comment by John Schneider got me thinking about this concept. Schneider said the following comment in reference to a recent trip he made to Portland, OR.

“The quality of the new buildings, starting at the airport and evident throughout the city, the mass of people walking the sidewalks, on the streetcars, and at events, was amazing. They are building a great city there.”

Cincinnati for the longest time was building a great city. Our park system, boulevard network and grand collection of diverse architectural styles has always been impressive. Cincinnati is considered to be the birthplace of contemporary American urban planning when it became the first major American city to endorse a comprehensive plan in 1925 that complimented the Park Plan of 1907 that we still follow today.

Our urban environment was methodically planned out and carried out with the highest quality until about the mid-twentieth century when we started engaging in the urban renewal and suburban sprawl policies sweeping the nation.

New Columbia Square development in the heart of the historic Columbia Tusculum NBD

Cincinnati is not certainly alone in this regard, but what can be done to counter this trend. I think most of us can agree that the quality of buildings, the urban form, social and cultural institutions pale in comparison to what we used to build here in Cincinnati.

Cities like Portland, Seattle and even Charlotte to a lesser extent seem to be getting it right with their recent actions. Their history does not come close to Cincinnati’s and they will never be able to boast many of the amenities we have today, but we have lost much and they are building great cities today, while we seem to be content with building sub-par city based around anything but the people who live here.

New development in (clockwise from top-left):
Seattle, Washington; Portland’s Pearl District; Charlotte’s South End
Seattle & Portland photos by Jake Mecklenborg
Categories
News Transportation

Could a City-Wide Water Taxi Network Improve Region’s Mobility?

Cincinnati is a river town. We developed as a major city because of the Ohio River. Multiple satellite cities developed as a result of the several Ohio River tributaries (Little Miami, Great Miami, Licking). These cities have become an integral part of our region and have greatly influenced the population distribution we see today.

Steamboats once darted all over the mighty Ohio River taking people to/from nearby cities and within our own to special destinations like Coney Island. Aside from the historic Anderson Ferry operation there is nothing left to speak of in terms of human transportation along our rivers.

Why not once again tap one of the biggest natural resources our community has as a means for transporting people?

Cincinnati could set up a Central Riverfront water taxi loop that would make stops at Cincinnati’s Central Riverfront Park, Newport on the Levee, and Covington Landing. This 1.65 mile loop could operate daily with one 12 passenger boat running the loop (15min). On the weekends, and for sporting events, a second 12 passenger boat could be deployed to handle greater demand for a route geared towards tourists and special event patrons. The water taxi loop’s reach would be extended with Cincinnati’s proposed streetcar system – making a car-free trip both easy and possible from downtown Covington and Newport all the way to the University of Cincinnati.

Linear routes could then be set up to run to the Central Riverfront Park terminal from the current Anderson Ferry terminal (6.88miles, 28min) to the west and new stops in Columbia Tusculum (4.66miles, 21min) and Coney Island to the east. The Anderson Ferry and Columbia Tusculum docking points would operate daily for commuter traffic, with the additional eastern leg to Coney Island operating on weekends and during special events at Riverbend and Riverdowns – similar to the function of the old “Island Queen” that operated between Coney Island and Downtown Cincinnati.

The water taxis used for the linear routes would hold 27 passengers seated and up to 6 additional standing passengers. Peak operating hours would be during daily commute periods for the Anderson Ferry and Columbia Tusculum terminals with 1 boat operating on each respective leg making for new departures every 40min to 1hr.

Too often we seem to forget how our city and region once functioned when it operated out of a manner of necessity. Riverdowns is feeling the pinch and Coney Island isn’t what it once was prior to the opening of Kings Island. Riverbend has opened a new pavilion and continues to draw big names, but additional service to the concert venue probably wouldn’t hurt.

UPDATE: Covington City Manager, Project Executive for The Banks, and several other riverfront business leaders are working together on collaborative efforts including water taxis – Enquirer 2/16/09.