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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.

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“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.

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Development News Transportation

Cincinnati to examine bus rapid transit as part of expanding transit network

As Cincinnati moves forward with the development of the Midwest’s first modern streetcar system, a political leader is pushing for even greater transit improvements that would compliment an increasingly diverse collection of alternative forms of transport.

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls is proposing a robust network of bus rapid transit (BRT) that would connect the region’s commuters with major employment centers like Uptown and Downtown. Qualls believes BRT is a cost-effective and innovative transit strategy.

“Bus rapid transit incorporates many of the advantages of light rail, but is cheaper and can be implemented quickly,” Qualls said in a prepared statement. “Cities around the world and the country are giving commuters a great transit option now with rapid transit.”

Many cities around the United States and internationally are beginning to look at BRT more closely as a cheaper alternative to building dedicated rail transit systems. After first being popularized in Bogotá, Columbia, bus rapid transit now exists in 33 cities throughout the world with an additional 22 systems planned.

What differentiates BRT routes from other bus routes is the dedicated lanes they use. These dedicated corridors are often complimented by signal prioritization and timing that allows for faster travel times over long distances.

“Cities are looking to rapid transit to meet increased commuter demand and to spur development,” Qualls stated. “Because the conversion to rapid transit is faster and cheaper than developing light rail, it is an important interim step that helps build transit ridership and provides a great service in the near term.”

While some transit experts agree that BRT can serve as an integral part of an overall transit system, others believe that BRT can be compromised when pitched as an inexpensive alternative to light rail.

“If you look at Oakland, who was studying BRT, they’ve been working on the project for a long time and recently had the City of Berkeley decline to even study dedicated lanes even though that was the plan all along,” explained Jeff Wood, Chief Cartographer, Reconnecting America.  “They felt like they could do it cheaper than light rail, but now they aren’t even going to get any of the benefits of bus rapid transit.”

As part of Vice Mayor Qualls’ motion, BRT would be a portion of a larger multi-modal transit plan that would include the streetcar and light rail according to Cincinnati’s existing rail plan. Major corridors would include I-75, I-71, Queen City Avenue, Harrison Avenue, Vine Street, Reading Road, Madison Road, and Martin Luther King Drive. Qualls suggested the city aggressively pursue state and federal funds to pay for the development of bus rapid transit.


Those interested in learning more about bus rapid transit have the opportunity to meet with BRT expert Jack Gonsalves at the OKI Regional Council of Governments Board Room (map) on Monday, December 6 at 1pm.  Gonsalves will be joined by a variety of local leaders to discuss BRT and how it might be developed in Cincinnati.

Categories
News Politics Transportation

Cincinnati to Vote on Massive Bicycle Policy Reforms

In a bold effort to make Cincinnati more bicycle friendly and inviting for anyone to ride, the City’s Department of Transportation & Engineering has partnered with Queen City Bike and community members over the last 10 months to develop a Bicycle Transportation Plan that, in part, calls for 330 miles of new dedicated street lanes and 83 miles of off-street bike paths in addition to the 33-mile collection of bike paths that exist presently.

Cincinnati City Council’s Livable Communities Committee will hear these recommendations at their meeting today where a large number of bicycle advocates are expected to appear in support of the plan.  The meeting will be held at City Hall (map) at 6pm.

Recent efforts have included the addition of new dedicated bike lanes, sharrows, bicycle racks, on-street bike parking, and a new regulation requiring the inclusion of bicycle parking inside parking garages.  Progress also continues to be made on the Ohio River Trail which will eventually tap into the Little Miami Scenic Trail and provide a continuous bicycle route from Cincinnati’s eastern suburbs to downtown Cincinnati where it will terminate at the new Bicycle Commuter Station currently under construction at the Cincinnati Riverfront Park.

In cities like Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco even more is being done to accommodate bicyclists as the number of those utilizing the carbon-neutral form of transportation continues to rise at a rapid pace.

Such efforts being made in these cities include separated on-street bike lanes, enhanced signage, signal timing, and bike boxes which are all intended to make bicycling safer and more accommodating.  As a result, Vancouver has seen a ten fold increase in the number of bicyclists using the Dunsmuir Viaduct since its bicycle improvements were made.  Bicycling there also represents the fastest growing form of transportation in Vancouver with more than 60,000 bicycle trips each day.

In May 2010, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls highlighted Portland, OR’s use of bike boxes as a best practice citing that the new bike boxes at intersections throughout Portland help to eliminate dangerous “right hook” collisions.  The bike boxes in Portland are colored green boxes on the road with a white bicycle symbol inside that offers a visual clue to motorists to expect bicyclists at the intersection while also positioning bicyclists in front of motorists so that they are not in the motorist’s blind spot.

Those interested in speaking at the Livable Communities Committee meeting tonight are asked to arrive by 5:50pm to fill out a comment card.  Free bicycle parking is available at City Hall which can also be accessed by Metro bus service (plan your trip).