Thursday, June 24, 1999

Colerain Connector won't die


State lawmaker says road may be revived

BY TANYA ALBERT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For now, it doesn't look as if state-owned land in Northside will be given back to the city of Cincinnati.

        An Ohio legislative conference committee voted Wednesday to take language out of a bill that would have transferred the land the state purchased to build a roadway known as the “Colerain Connector.”

        The plan calls for connecting west-side streets more directly with Interstate 74.

        Rep. Patricia Clancy, R-Colerain Township, said petitions are being circulated to ask the city to pursue the Colerain Connector.

        “The significance (of Wednesday's vote) is that the project could possibly be revived,” said Ms. Clancy, who asked that the language be taken out.

"Politics have prevailed'
        Said Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati, who convinced Republican leaders to include language in the state budget conveying the land to the city: “Politics have prevailed over the community's wishes.

        “If this project was necessary, it would have been built sometime in the last 50 years.”

        Although new legislation would be needed for the city to get the land back, the road project isn't likely to go forward.

        This year, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments members and Cincinnati City Council members voted not to go ahead with the project that has been on the books for more than 50 years.

        They also voted to ask the Ohio Department of Transportation to take the project off the books for good, a process known as dejournalization.

        The dejournalization was not contingent on the land transfer, Mr. Mallory said.

Grass-roots opposition
        The Colerain Connector, which has been opposed by a grass-roots coalition, was pitched as a traffic congestion solution. A city report this spring used computer models to show how much new traffic the area would see in the next 20 years.

        It showed, for example, on southbound Colerain Avenue at Virginia Avenue, there were 13,800 vehicles daily in December 1998. Computer projections for 2020 show an 8.7 percent increase over that, with 15,000 vehicles daily, according to the city report.

        The traffic, city officials have said, can be handled more cost-effectively by improving traffic without major construction.

        That could include widening Kirby Avenue in the area between Ashtree Drive and Virginia Avenue, and improving intersections including Kirby and Bruce avenues.

Mayor says move on
        “People need to stop focusing on the Colerain Connector,” Mayor Roxanne Qualls said. “There are traffic problems that need to be addressed, but we don't want to do that by building an expressway through a community.”

        Some residents disagree.

        The report shows the need for a safer and more efficient connection with I-74, Mount Airy Community Council President Bob Steelman said Wednesday.

        “Building the connector is the only way to do that,” he said.

        Enquirer reporter Michael Hawthorne contributed.

       



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