Thrusday, December 31, 1998

Residents balk at Lebanon bypass

Council revives old Glosser Road plan

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — It's no surprise city officials think they need a bypass. After all, plans to extend Glosser Road have been on the books for 35 years.

        What angers Turtlecreek Township residents is that city council decided last week to take the next step in building the bypass — a connector that would link Ohio 63 with Interstate 71 — without consulting them or revisiting a decades-old plan.

        Glosser Road is too close to the city and crawls up one of Warren County's highest hills, residents say. It would destroy front yards, lower property values and alter forever the serene, agrarian landscape, they contend.

        But city officials argue a by pass is necessary to divert increasing truck and car traffic — especially from Lebanon's historic downtown. Many of the city's main roads were designed to handle 6,000 to 9,000 cars a day, city officials have said. In 1997, about 23,000 vehicles traveled Main Street daily.

        “It would be best if we can route the through traffic around the city and let local traffic use local streets,” city planner Marty Kohler said. “The old streets in downtown were just not constructed to accommodate that kind of traffic.”

        The city's plan calls for extending Glosser Road north to Hart Road and south to Fujitech Drive. That would complete a circle of roads around the city, with Miller Road to the north and the Ohio 48 bypass to the east.

        Council took the first step toward the Glosser Road extension last week when it approved spending $141,000 to purchase rights of way between Ohio 63 and Hart Road. Several years of planning, engineering and construction likely will precede the project's completion.

        Council included the Glosser Road project as one of its initiatives for 1999 and set a target completion date of 2001, but member Jim Reinhard concedes that may be overly ambitious.

        The road project would make city streets safer, he said, and it would ease the strain on existing roads and increase property values for residents living along traffic-weary streets such as Main or Broadway.

        “It's not putting in a road just to build a road,” Mr. Reinhard said. “It's something the city needs.”

        Turtlecreek Township Trustee Dan George agrees the area likely would benefit from the bypass. But he wants Lebanon officials to re-examine the issue and launch a study before determining Glosser Road is the best option.

        Glosser “is a perfectly calm little dead-end road with 14 houses,” Mr. George said. “If we were to double the width of the road and move trucks back and forth, it would absolutely ruin those properties.”

        Plus, Mr. George said, Glosser may be too close to Lebanon, which has ballooned in population from 10,453 in 1990 to an estimated 13,700. The city is expected to reach 17,400 by 2010.

        “As the city continues to grow, you're going to have an outerbelt in the middle of the city,” Mr. George said.

        Right now, only 20 feet of grass and trees separate Glosser Road from Helen English's 1841 federal-style home. She and husband Robert knew when they purchased the home in 1984 that city leaders had discussed plans for a bypass.

        That didn't stop them from pouring 14 years of sweat into restoring the house. After all, the plans had been discussed for years without any action, and they figured city leaders would find a different route.

        “The silly people in Lebanon let all this building go on before they fixed the roads and widened the streets. Now they say they need a bypass,” Mrs. English said. “Where does the will of the people enter into this? I just don't understand.”

        Mr. Reinhard said he empathizes with Glosser Road residents.

        “I know if I lived down there, I'd be having a fit,” he said. “But it's not something new. It's been in the plans for years.”

        And, he added, “We have to do what's in the best interests for the majority of the city.”

        Turtlecreek Township resident Ann Philippo knows some of Lebanon's major streets are congested. But city officials shouldn't ruin one road to fix another, she said.

        “Lebanon has managed to put almost all of its fast-food stops (on Main Street),” said Mrs. Philippo, who spent her childhood on the Glosser Road. She and her siblings own Mulford Farm, which runs along Glosser south of U.S. 42.

        “I don't see why Lebanon's planning problems should become my headache.”


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