Metro will hold an open house on Thursday to share a variety of proposed changes to the routing of express commuter bus routes through downtown. Officials with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority say that the re-routings simplify their operations and make the routes more easily understandable for riders.
There are some 14 express routes that have been identified for these changes. In many cases, the routes come into the downtown area one way in the morning, and depart a different way in the evening.
The express routes are those that primarily impact those commuting into the center city from outlying suburbs, so the meeting time has been scheduled during the middle of the workday so that those commuters can easily attend and provide feedback.
The proposed changes would greatly simplify many of the routes, thus allowing for some stops to be eliminated, while others are relocated. The end result should enable faster and more reliable operations through the center city.
The recommendations come as the region’s largest transit provider is working to both expand and reform existing operations in order to improve its bus service operations. It also comes at a time when Metro is gathering public feedback with regard to what kinds of improvements existing and would be transit riders would like to see made.
The open house will take place from 10am to 2pm on Thursday, November 5 in the boardroom of Metro’s main office, which is located on the 12th floor of 602 Main Street.
In addition to large posters of the proposed route changes, which are all made available at the end of this story, Metro’s planning staff will be on-hand to answer any related questions. Those unable to attend the open house in person are encouraged to email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit comments through an online submission form. All comments received prior to 5pm on Thursday will become part of the official project record.
Following this public feedback period, transit planners will final revisions and begin putting together an implementation plan. Based on the current schedule, Metro officials believe the changes can be implemented by March 2016.
When discussing regional transportation issues, the topic seems to always be about congestion. In reality, outside of a few limited periods, the Cincinnati region has relatively good traffic flow with little actual congestion. So instead of trying to solve a problem that does not exist, we should be instead focusing our resources on maintaining our current system and improving mobility within the overall region.
As is the case in any city, the natural environment often serves as a chokepoint and barrier to regional mobility. This is true for Cincinnati with its hills and rivers.
With the region’s population largely centered along the Ohio River, it is natural that this is where the most choke points exist. Outside of the center city, however, there are very few river crossings. In fact, there are only two Ohio River crossings outside of the center city, and both of those are for I-275.
One such area that makes sense for a new local road bridge is around Cincinnati’s Columbia Tusculum neighborhood and Dayton, KY near where the $400 million Manhattan Harbour project is planned.
An increasing amount of development continues to occur on the northern bank of the river in Columbia Tusculum and East End. Further up the hill sits prosperous neighborhoods like Mt. Lookout, Hyde Park, and Oakley; and just around the bend lies Lunken Airfield.
Conversely, on the south side of the river in Kentucky, large-scale development projects have long been envisioned, but are often derailed due to poor access via existing roadway networks. This remains true for Manhattan Harbour where concerns exist about the traffic burden that would be placed on the narrow KY 8 running through historic Bellevue’s quaint business district.
A local road bridge that is one lane in each direction with space for pedestrian and bicycle paths would be an ideal fit for this area of the region. It would improve mobility and access to two difficult-to-access areas. It would also offer a highway alternative for those looking to cross between the two states.
A second location where a local bridge of this nature would make sense is near where the Anderson Ferry currently operates today on the city’s west side.
The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport sits on the southern side of the river where this bridge would land. This area continues to be bolstered by warehouses, distribution facilities and other airport-related services, and could be further bolstered with better access. What’s more, Cincinnati’s western neighborhoods that have long had to deal with excessive airplane noise, yet long treks to the airport, could at least resolve one of those injustices with a new local access bridge.
The Taylor-Southgate Bridge is the most recent span that has been constructed over the Ohio River. It was completed in 1995 and cost $56 million at that time – approximately $85 million when adjusted for inflation. Both of these new bridges would need to span an approximate 1,700-foot-wide width, which is about 300 feet more than the Taylor-Southgate Bridge river width.
One of the main differences, however, is that the Taylor-Southgate Bridge includes two lanes of traffic in each direction, plus sidewalks. The need for only one lane of traffic on these bridges would allow them to have a deck width of around just 30 to 35 feet.
Another good nearby comparison is the U.S. Grant Bridge in Portsmouth, OH. That cable-stayed bridge was completed by the Ohio Department of Transportation in 2006 for approximately $30 million – or about $35 million in today’s dollars.
In addition to access and mobility improvements for motorists, a new bridge in both of these locations would also be a boon for cyclists. Those riding along the Little Miami Scenic Trail and the Ohio River Trail would now also be able to continue on to Northern Kentucky’s Riverfront Commons Trail, which will eventually stretch 11.5 miles from Ludlow to Ft. Thomas.
The Cincinnati region does not need multi-billion dollar solutions for a traffic congestion issues that largely do not exist. Reasonable and affordable projects that aim to increase mobility and access, along with maintaining our existing assets, should be the priority.
New local bridges connecting the region’s east and west side neighborhoods would open up land for new development, improve access between both states, enhance mobility for pedestrians and cyclists, and would do so at a price tag we can afford.
On November 5, constituents in the Oak Hills Local School District will make a very significant choice: To pass or kill an emergency levy (Issue 20). This decision will impact the well-being of not only the school, but of the future of Cincinnati’s economy.
I make this claim due to the threat to the district’s German program. The Lakota School district has already quietly killed their language program, and now Oak Hills’ is under fire.
Oak Hills’ German program is the second largest in the region and strong in college placement. Students routinely advance to 200-level courses upon entering college and shine amongst other German programs in the city, achieving first place three years running at UC’s German Day language competition. Should Issue 20 fail, Oak Hills will remove German from Delhi and Rapid Run Middle Schools and one of the three remaining German instructors at Oak Hills High School.
Oak Hills High School is one of the largest in Ohio, but the district’s German language program, the second largest in the region, may be at risk. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
Why does German matter? As you probably know, Cincinnati has a strong German heritage. What you may not know is that Germany’s influence remains not only in our last names, our festivals, and the foods we eat, but is strongly represented in our business sector with over 100 German-owned companies in Cincinnati.
By removing German from our middle schools and high schools, we deprive our future business leaders of exposure to a key foreign language when they are developmentally most inclined to learn a second language. We deprive them of the ability to navigate through cultural differences when dealing with their future colleagues. We deprive our city of the ability to maintain ties to the strongest economies in the European market, losing our ability to compete in regional and global market places.
Programs like Oak Hills’ are being cut all over the city. Remember that curricula are determined at the local level by voters like you. Whether you live in the Oak Hills School District or not, consider the significant impact of your vote when going to the ballots on November 5. Support your local language programs to provide our middle and high school students the tools they need to succeed and to foster the growth of Cincinnati.
Lisa Bambach is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning where she studied graphic design. She currently works as the Marketing and Creative Director of Cincideutsch, a local German language and culture organization. If you would like to submit a guest editorial of your own, please contact UrbanCincy at email@example.com.