Monday, August 21, 2000

Major road work over for now


Downtown traffic should be back to normal

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Commuters get their first run at the latest Fort Washington Way improvements this morning, after a tough road test this weekend.

        Thousands of drivers took that road test of Cincinnati streets in a weekend full of sports, concerts and festivals.

CHANGING TODAY
  • Pete Rose Way: The section between Broadway and Cinergy Field closed permanently at 5 a.m. today. That means Mehring Way becomes the main riverfront route for east-west traffic.
  • Levee Way: It also closed permanently at 5 a.m. today. Riverfront traffic from downtown or the Suspeonsion Bridge will use Third Street west to Central Avenue, then south to Mehring Way as a detour, until the portion of Second Street between Walnut and Main is completed.
  • Both closures are necessary to complete the partial demolition of the Cinergy Field plaza.
WHAT'S DONE
  • What opened Friday
  • What opened last Monday
WHAT'S NEXT
  • The opening of the rest of Second Street, from Vine to Main Street, probably by Labor Day.
  • The opening of an additional lane leading onto Fort Washington Way from both ends, probably by Thanksgiving. The lanes are closed while decorative wall panels are being finished.
        Those headed downtown this morning from southbound Interstate 75 or from Kentucky can now exit at Second Street and use the bridges at Elm, Race and Vine streets. Drivers crossing the Brent Spence Bridge no longer have to dodge barrels.

        No, the highway's not finished. But yes, the biggest hurdles have been crossed.

        “We think the traffic downtown will be pretty close to normal again downtown for the first time in about two years,” Cincinnati Police Capt. Vince Demasi said.

        Agreed project manager John Deatrick: “The final traffic patterns are in place now.”

        Tens of thousands of visitors and locals tested those patterns with this weekend's confluence of events: Reds games at Cinergy Field, the Bengals' inaugural game in Paul Brown Stadium, the Black Family Reunion on the riverfront and Kids Expo at the the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center.

        The combination “is not the biggest event we've ever had in downtown, but it's right up there,” Capt. Demasi said.

        The Black Family reunion, in its 12th year, drew record crowds over the weekend, he and organizers agreed. Cassandra Robinson, a spokeswoman for the event said weather was “perfect,” and the Reds and Bengals games, rather than deterring people, gave them a two-fer opportunity.

        “I think it added to our crowd because people got one parking spot and two events,” Ms. Robinson said.

        That parking, however, was at a premium, with garages that normally charge $3 on Saturday afternoon upping their fee to as much as $15 a space.

        Many Black Family Reunion participants dealt with that by parking as far away as Covington and walking.

        That's what Anthony Macklin did.

        “Everything was very nice, except for all the construction,” said Mr. Macklin, who is temporarily living in Florence, but normally resides in India napolis. “It was very crowded, but there was not a lot of commotion from anyone.”

        Mara H. Gottfried contributed to this report.

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



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