Thursday, August 17, 2000

Second St. opening just in time for Reds, Bengals




By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A section of Second Street being counted on to relieve traffic congestion will get a good workout right away — handling two full rush hours after it opens Friday morning, and then both Reds and Bengals game traffic Saturday.

        That should give immediate feedback to project and traffic officials, who will be on full alert this weekend.

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        “We're looking for anyone wanting to get to the southwest portion of downtown to use that street, especially those coming from Kentucky or the west side of the city,” said Don Gindling, the city's supervising engineer for the $314 million project. “We'll have two distinct patterns over two days, with different emphasis on each.”

        Planners hope Second and Third streets serve as “collectors” of local traffic, a function formerly filled by the old Fort Washington Way. With only Third Street open now, downtown traffic has been especially bad this week.

        Project officials haven't estimated what the initial vehicle count will be on Second and Third, but about 125,000 vehicles a day used the old Fort Washington Way.

        Second Street will run eastbound right by the new Paul Brown Stadium, initially connecting to Elm, Race and Vine streets. Drivers can access the street from either direction on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, Interstates 71/75 north, I-75 south and U.S. 50 east.

        Before that can happen, however, the eastbound lanes of Fort Washington Way will be closed today beginning at 11 p.m. until Second Street opens Friday at 5 a.m.

        Also closing during that time will be both directions of the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and Third Street between the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and Central Avenue.

        Mr. Gindling said the closures are necessary to finish hanging signs and painting lanes. The city can expect more closures over the next few months, he said.

        While the new street should relieve pressure on other down town entry points, access is still limited.

        For example, only traffic from I-71/75 north will be allowed to turn onto both Elm and Vine streets. Traffic from I-75 south, the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and U.S. 50 east must wait until Vine before turning north.

        “It's too many weaves in too short a time,” Mr. Gindling said.

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        And pedestrians walking from downtown to Second Street and the stadium will be limited to Race and Elm streets and along western Second Street.

        By the end of the month, Second Street will connect to Main and Walnut streets, with a new ramp connecting down to Broadway and Pete Rose Way. Opening later this fall will be ramps off the street onto I-71 north, Columbia Parkway (U.S. 50) east, and I-471 south on the street's eastern end.

        Tim Steffen couldn't care less about a new Second Street. He only wants all four northbound lanes on the Brent Spence Bridge to open up — which will happen Friday morning.

        “I've got nine miles to go, and on some days lately, it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get downtown,” said Mr. Steffen, a Villa Hills, Ky., resident who works for a clothing company on the west side of downtown. “On some days it was conceivable to have a two-hour trip from Erlanger to Cincinnati. I'll just be glad when they finally get it finished.”

Traffic reports at Cincinnati.com/traffic

Fort Washington Way reports
MapOpening datesEasier to drive
Way of the future
Safety issues remain



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