Cincinnati and Dayton to continue their merger with pending I-75 growth

As the 2010 Census count gets closer, so does the Cincinnati and Dayton metropolitan areas.  At one point the two regions were only connected by the Miami-Erie Canal and the industry that relied on such transportation.

But over time Dayton has grown southward and Cincinnati northward.  Cross-commuting between Cincinnati’s northern suburbs to Dayton’s southern suburbs and vice versa is now common.  Dayton news outlets cover the Reds and Bengals and both metropolitan regions seem to claim Warren County as their own.  The Dayton Daily News is prominently located along I-75 on the outskirts of the Dayton metro area, and the Cincinnati Enquirer has its own northern outpost.

This migration of two previously separate regions is becoming increasingly evident with a short drive up Interstate 75.  Where fields of corn once grew one now finds the growth of office and medical complexes, strip malls, distribution centers and suburban housing.

It was not long ago when the Union Centre Boulevard interchange was built just outside the I-275 beltway.  The development was significant because it was the first of its kind, and has since paved the road for more of these developments to occur along the I-75 corridor between Cincinnati and Dayton.

About five miles north of Union Centre Boulevard is the location of an interchange being rebuilt and expanded in a way that will open up an additional 600 acres for development at the Butler County Veterans Highway.  A few miles north of that is the new Cincinnati Premium Outlets mall scheduled to open soon with a host of other road improvements off the State Route 63 interchange.  Another 1,200 plus acres of development has been set aside off of the State Route 122 interchange in Middletown, and a new interchange hoping to channel some of Union Centre Boulevard’s success is being planned for Austin Pike even further north.

The growth seems inevitable, but how it occurs is up for debate.  Some leaders have called for increased regionalism, while others have discussed the dire need for improved freight and passenger rail systems between the two metropolitan centers.

As the already congested I-75 becomes increasingly developed,  a strain will be placed on the road network that will require massive infrastructure investments on secondary roads and alternatives for freight traffic including rail.  The potential of a larger more connected Cincinnati-Dayton region may seem exciting, but there will certainly be challenges to address and a price to pay for that kind of growth.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
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