One local community is coming together to oppose an upcoming transportation project in Cincinnati – and it's not the streetcar.
The Eastern Corridor project, a highway expansion and community rail
project led by the Ohio Department of Transportation, has raised the ire
of Madisonville residents who object to the expansion of Red Bank Road
to what ODOT terms "highway capacity," citing a negative impact on the
"It's really quite dramatic what they are proposing," says Bill
Collins, a board member with the Madisonville Community Council.
"Essentially the end result will make these neighborhoods unattractive."
Construction for Phase 1 of the project is slated to take place on an
approximately 2.5 mile stretch on Red Bank Road from Interstate 71 to
US 50. The project calls for the appropriation of large amounts of land
along Red Bank Road, Collins says, including chunks of property
belonging to the Children's Home of Cincinnati and the clinical research
Collins says the plan is very outdated. "It was a plan that was put
together with very little input from the communities around here," he
says. "It was put together before a lot of development blossomed (on Red
Bank Road). People stop at businesses when the speed limit is 35 miles
per hour. How many will stop when the speed limit is 55?"
Collins is also amazed that ODOT didn't contact businesses to consult with them about the land appropriation.
A June meeting about the Eastern Corridor project was the first time
that representatives of Medpace and the Children's Home of Cincinnati
learned of their property being connected to the project, he says.
"Neither organization had any recollection of being contacted by
ODOT," Collins says. "The fact that (Ellen Katz, CEO of the Children's
Home of Cincinnati) didn't know about it and was seeing the maps for the
first time was shocking. That's an indication to us that the community
input in 2006 was limited. ODOT didn't really do their due diligence in
reaching out to the public."
Representatives for ODOT, however, said they solicited resident input on the project as early as 2001.
"We've had numerous meetings and discussions with them (between 2001 and 2006)," says Andy Fluegemann, planning engineer for ODOT's District 8, which includes Hamilton County.
A federal court decision upheld the plans for Phase 1 of the project in 2006, but the project stalled due to a lack of development funds, Fluegemann says.
Funding was identified for the project in 2009, however, and a consultant was hired to collect data and update what information may have changed concerning the project, such as the new development along Red Bank Road, he said
In the meantime, neighboring communities have joined Madisonville in its
opposition to the project. The Hyde Park Neighborhood Council approved a
resolution supporting a Madisonville resolution calling for no
expansion to Red Bank Road and requesting more neighborhood input on the
"I think they realize if the road (Red Bank) accommodates the quality
development, it will possibly raise the demand for housing (in Hyde
Park)," Collins says. "It's not just a Madisonville issue, but an east
Cincinnati City Council has also joined the movement. It passed two
resolutions June 21 calling for the Cincinnati Department of
Transportation and Engineering to work with Madisonville in developing
an alternative plan for Phase 1 and to change the name of the Red Bank
Road Expressway to the Dunbar Expressway, paying homage to the historic
"We move that DOTE work with the residents and businesses of
Madisonville to oppose the current Ohio Department of Transportation
(ODOT) plan to turn Red Bank Expressway into a 55-mile-per-hour highway
as part of the Eastern Corridor project," the council resolution reads.
The City Council resolution also called for DOTE to include
attractive landscaping and accommodate the needs of cyclists and
Despite opposing the current plan, the Madisonville Community Council
is not against the whole Eastern Corridor project, Collins says. The
council just wants to see ODOT solicit more community input from
Madisonville residents regarding Phase 1.
"If this thing is done right, it has the potential to dramatically
improve the east side of town for the next 30 to 40 years," he says. "If
the project is going to be done, we want it to be done the right way
before the bulldozers start doing their thing."
Flugemann says ODOT planned to reengage the public, including residents of Madisonville, at a series of meetings this fall -- before Cincinnati City Council beat them to the punch by setting a meeting slated for Aug. 3 at the
Madisonville Recreation Center at 5320 Stewart Road. The meeting is
hosted by Cincinnati City Council's Livable Communities Committee.
ODOT will "gather residents input and get their concerns on the table" through the Aug. 3 meeting, he said.By James Sprague