News Politics Transportation

Residents Take Stand Against Proposed Highway Through Cincinnati’s Eastern Neighborhoods

In December 2010, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) published its 2011-2015 Major New Construction Project List. The list included funding to resume study of the highway component of the controversial Eastern Corridor Project. Dormant since 2006, the sudden reappearance of the highway project alarmed area residents, more than 100 of whom gathered at the Madisonville Recreation Center on August 3 for a meeting of Cincinnati City Council’s Livable Communities Committee.

On display were ODOT’s two circa 2006 Tier 1 alternatives, one of which called for the complete replacement of Red Bank Road with a fully grade separated interstate-style highway. This drawing, seen for the first time by most in attendance, emboldened suspicions that the Eastern Corridor Project is in fact a veiled attempt to extend Interstate 74 across Hamilton County.


“We urge ODOT to unbundle the Eastern Corridor projects and concentrate on providing transportation alternatives in this community, not another highway,” exclaimed one resident at the recent City Council committee meeting. “Reallocating resources to utilize the Wasson Line will produce more cost-effective transportation alternatives for thousands including Madisonville citizens.”

Citizen feedback generally welcomed improvements to Red Bank Road, especially a boulevard or parkway that might compare favorably to the more attractive roads in the area. Many also suggested development of better public transportation, especially implementation of light rail transit on the abandoned Wasson Road railroad.

Read UrbanCincy‘s exclusive in-depth analysis of the Wasson Line and Oasis Line.

Opposition to construction of an expressway in place of Red Bank Road was unanimous at the meeting, and citizen comments were followed by stern questioning of ODOT officials by City Council members Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan and Chris Bortz.

ODOT assured the committee that the Tier 1 alternatives on display would be reworked and that it will work closely with Madisonville Community Council and other neighborhood groups to ensure a favorable outcome. ODOT officials also remarked that the City of Cincinnati and other jurisdictions through which the Eastern Corridor Project will pass will have to approve ordinances to allow its eventual construction.

News Politics Transportation

Three hybrid buses to be added to Metro’s fleet

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) will debut three new hybrid buses on Thursday, August 5.  The new buses will join a Metro bus fleet that is seeing the number of environmentally friendly buses grow with the help of federal funding through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“As Metro’s fleet gets greener, Cincinnati’s air gets cleaner” said Marilyn Shazor, Metro’s CEO. “Mass transit itself is an important and easy way to go green, and our hybrid buses illustrate our system’s commitment to environmental responsibility.”

Metro officials have estimated that in the first year of operation, the existing six hybrid buses have reduced greenhouse gases by 190 tons, provided 330,000 “green” rides, traveled 210,000 miles, and saved the transit agency 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

The savings are particularly important as transit officials look to deal with fewer people riding transit due to the economy, and lower financial contributions from the City of Cincinnati’s earnings tax which contributes 3/10th of one percent of that tax. In addition to the economic benefits, officials see the growing hybrid fleet as a positive for the local environment.

“Smog is a problem in the Cincinnati area and Metro’s purchase of cleaner, lower emission buses is a positive step toward helping clean up our air,” said Cory Chadwick, Director of the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services. “In fact, everyone can help by increasing their use of public transportation, especially by choosing to ride a diesel-hybrid bus with significantly lower exhaust emissions, better fuel economy, and a quieter ride than a standard diesel bus.”

The new hybrid buses will be on display at Ault Park (map) from 10am to 11am, and on Fifth Street between Walnut and Main (map) from 12pm to 1pm. Metro now has nine hybrid buses in its fleet, with another four to be added in fall 2010.

Arts & Entertainment News

Tie-Dye Ball This Friday

Looking for something a little different to do this Friday evening? Look no further than The Redmoor in Mt. Lookout Square for the Tie-Dye Ball which features two of Cincinnati’s longest running bands dedicated to playing the music of the 1960s. Not only should this evening be a step back in time, but it also benefits a great cause which is the Cincinnati organization, Play it Forward.

Play it Forward was founded by Gary Burbank, known famously for his stint on 700 WLW as the afternoon drive time host. Gary has many more passions in this world, one of which is music and so he helped found Play it Forward back in 2008. This organization attempts to help musicians in need by getting their story to the media as well manage an investment fund that will give them assistance in times of catastrophic need.

Doors open at 8pm this Friday night, with The Spookfloaters taking the stage at 9pm. Following at 11pm is Jerry’s Little Band. Both bands feature music from the likes of The Grateful Dead, Phish, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan and to fit with the theme of the evening party goers are encouraged to wear their best tie-dye shirts as well as beads and their best dancing shoes.

In addition to the music Play it Forward will have some of their items for sale including the piece of Cincinnati history that is The Ludlow Garage Project Volume One CD, Ludlow Garage T-shirts, and the Play it Forward compilation CD. Additionally, there will be a raffle featuring many items donated by local businesses.

So, if you’d like to relive your past, or just take a step back in time, pony up $10 and check it out. With a portion of the proceeds benefiting such a great cause it’s hard not to want to crash the gates like they did back in 1969 at Woodstock.


Cincinnati Parks celebrates first geothermal project

Today the Cincinnati Park Board and The Hillside Trust will celebrate the successful installation of the first geothermal system in a city-owned building in Cincinnati. The ribbon-cutting event will take place at 4:30pm at the Alms Park Caretaker House that is occupied by The Hillside Trust at 710 Tusculum Avenue.

Director of The Hillside Trust Eric Russo says that, “over the past months the electric bill for the office has only been about $25 a month,” which made Russo think there was a misprint on the bill. In addition to the new geothermal system, The Hillside Trust has also installed a variety of other energy efficient features to the building including “sky pipes” which maximizes natural sunlight to light the office through an intense reflection process.

The “sky pipes” within the building were one of the stops on the 2009 Ohio Solar Tour this past Saturday, October 3, and the geothermal is the first of more geothermal projects to come. Cincinnati Park Board superintendent of planning and design Steve Schuckman says that the Park Board just completed the installation of the second geothermal system in a city-owned building at the Caldwell Nature Center, and that these two projects are among the 33 Green Cincinnati Initiative projects undertaken by Cincinnati Parks.

Development News Transportation

Mt. Lookout Square transformation visually represented

In Soapbox this week I wrote about the plans for renovating Mt. Lookout Square. Below you can view the three-phased approach to implementing those changes. The work is still preliminary and is still trying to work itself out in terms of funding and overall scope. Click on any of the images to open up a larger version in a new window.