Saturday, Oct. 13, marks a big change for the neighborhood of Walnut Hills
: Taft and McMillan will be converted back to two-way traffic after four decades as one-way roads
In the mid-1970s, the City of Cincinnati temporarily converted William H. Taft Road and McMillan Street to one-way traffic during the construction of I-71. After the interstate’s completion, the streets were never converted back. Ever since, Cincinnatians have used the roads through Walnut Hills as a highway to shorten commute time rather than as a way to get around the neighborhood.
Today, there are quite a few businesses in Walnut Hills, but there are vacancies, too. The one-way traffic turns a great location for businesses into one that's hard to get to.
There’s a Kroger on McMillan, but drivers can’t make a left at Park Street and McMillan to get to it. Instead of taking the time to travel around the block, they go somewhere else.
Neighborhood leaders believe that the two-way conversion will help bring new life to the Walnut Hills’ business district.
“The neighborhood was built around people and public transportation, not around cars,” says Kevin Wright, executive director of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation
The effort to bring back the area’s business district has been primarily a grassroots one, says Wright. The property and business owners of Walnut Hills are pushing for the changes. And they’ve been fighting for the two-way conversion for about 30 years.
While there has been talk of lane changes for about fives years, but the physical conversion will take only a weekend. For the past month, crews have been putting up signs and streetlights, says Wright.
After Oct. 13, McMillan will have two lanes that travel east and a lane of parking on the north side of the street. There will only be one lane of traffic traveling west. Taft will be the same, but reversed. There was no physical construction to convert to two-way traffic—crews only had the existing 40 feet of road to work with. In the future, Walnut Hills Redevelopment hopes to gain another lane of parking on each street.
The two-way conversion will turn the Walnut Hills neighborhood from an auto-centric area to a walking neighborhood that focuses on bicycles, walking and public transportation.
By Caitlin Koenig
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