Thursday, September 07, 2000

Second Street delayed again

'Taking a long time to do the work'

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The complete opening of the new Second Street downtown has been pushed back again.

        The contractor was supposed to have the work done by Aug. 15, then that was rescheduled for this week.

        Now Cincinnati officials are saying October.

        “It's just taking a long time to do the work,” city Transportation Director John Deatrick said Wednesday. “It's a fairly nontypical design, and the contractors are just having trouble working out how to do it.”

        Initial plans call for Second Street to operate temporarily in separate sections, including the already opened stretch between downtown's western highways (Interstates 71/75, U.S. 50 and the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge) through Vine Street.

        Another section connecting Walnut and Main streets is expected to open by Sept. 16.

        Mr. Deatrick said Vine and Walnut will then be connected by Oct. 2, when a new ramp to Broadway Street/Pete Rose Way should also open.

        Second Street's connections to I-71 north, Columbia Parkway (U.S. 50) east, and I-471 south aren't due to open until at least mid-October.

        The new street, which runs one-way west to east, is a key component of the $314 million makeover of Fort Washington Way. Along with a reconfigured Third Street, planners hope Second Street handles the local traffic previously routed along Fort Washington Way.

        The entire project — including all lanes of the main highway connecting I-71 and I-75 — isn't expected to be finished until the end of the year.

        The Second Street section between Walnut and Main will open first because it is closest to completion and is most needed. Transit buses coming across the Roebling Suspension Bridge from Northern Kentucky are being allowed to turn east on Third Street in a special buses-only lane against the flow of traffic.

        “We want to end that as soon as possible and get the traffic pattern working normally,” Mr. Deatrick said.

        He said crews continue to work two 10-hour shifts six days a week.

        “They were working two 12-hour shifts seven days a week to get the majority of it open, and we can't expect them to keep that pace up,” he said.

        “People get hurt, especially after three months at top pace. What they're doing right now is still pretty extraordinary ... but if they drop below that, we'll have some serious concerns.”

        The newest delay should be covered financially by either the city or the contractor, S.E. Johnson of Maumee, Ohio.

        The city claims S.E. Johnson owes $15,000 for each day after the missed Aug. 15 deadline, while the contractor blames the city for the delay and is asking for $15 million in damages.

        Both sides have agreed to finish the project before taking their claims further — either to settlement talks or to court.


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