Friday, August 25, 2000

Second Street not first choice for commuters

Motorists aren't making connection, officials say

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Build them a road and they don't come.

        That's how city officials feel about the new Second Street, which is seeing such little action that “you could throw a bowling ball down it and not hit anyone,” said city Transportation Director John Deatrick.

        Meanwhile, traffic remains as bad as ever on Interstate 75's Fifth and Seventh Street exits.

        Officials will attempt to change that today when they open the connection from Third Street to I-75 south, inviting the public to bring scissors to cut the ribbon themselves.

        They hope the 12:15 p.m. ceremony raises awareness of just what is available along the new Fort Washington Way.

        “The more people we get down there, the more we can point out what's already open,” Mr. Deatrick said.

        Since the new eastbound Second Street opened Aug. 18, use has been minimal, Mr. Deatrick said.

        Thursday, for example, 70 cars used Second during 15 minutes starting at 10 a.m. in an informal traffic count.

        Meanwhile, the lines to access the Fifth and Seventh Street exits remain backed up as much as a mile during the morning rush hour, creating frustration for many drivers who expected the $314 million renovation to improve things.

        “People are creatures of habit, I guess,” Mr. Deatrick said. “They don't want to try something new on the off-chance they'll be late for work. But that is creating an unbalance in the system.”

        Second Street, which runs from connections to Interstates 71 and 75 from both directions and U.S. 50 east through Vine Street, was designed to handle the local traffic formerly routed on Fort Washington Way.

        But Janice Toebben of Fort Mitchell said she didn't realize Second Street was

        open until Thursday, and has been tied up at Fifth Street every morning.

        “I still don't know how it works, but I guess I should try it,” said Mrs. Toebben, who works for a downtown bank. “The Fifth Street exit is not a good thing right now. A two-minute ride down Fifth can be 15-20 minutes.”

        She also called the opening of the new connection from Third to the interstate “wonderful news,” because she had been using the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge to cross the river.

        In addition to today's events, officials from the Advanced Regional Interactive Management and Information System (ARTIMIS) have added messages to signs along the interstates that Second is open, and additional signage is planned, Mr. Deatrick said.

        Second Street eventually will run through Main and Walnut streets and connect with I-71, I-471 and Columbia Parkway (U.S. 50) west.

        Mr. Deatrick said work to connect Second from Vine to Main remains on schedule for an opening date of Aug. 31. The other connections are due to open by mid-October.

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