Monday, October 30, 2000

Main St. battle renewed


Businesses also foes of state road project

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Small businesses along Main Street are banding together to oppose a planned 2-mile reconstruction that residents of the street have unsuccessfully fought for months.

        If the state Department of Transportation follows through on any of its four options for rebuilding, “this town's going to die. It's not going to be this quaint bedroom community with antique shops,” Bartoni's Pizzeria owner Craig Knox warned Sunday.

        The options vary from 13 to 19 months of construction time and would reroute varying amounts of traffic onto Silver and Mulberry streets and nearby state routes.

        That would kill business, Mr. Knox and others say: “Without the through traffic, the tourism traffic, we can't survive,” Mr. Knox said.

        Small-business owners will take their fight to City Council during a work session Tuesday night.

        Mr. Knox speaks from experience: The pizzeria that used to occupy his West Main site went out of business during a six-month bridge project on West Main several years ago.

        Linda Howson, owner of Molehill Miniatures on East Main, said she is leasing her shop month-to-month and will have to close if construction takes place as planned. To add insult to injury, she lives along Silver Street, one of the likely detour routes.

        “Not only are they going to put me out of business but they're going to devalue my home,” Ms. Howson said.

        Small-business owners are new to the Battle of Main Street. Residents have campaigned against ODOT's plans for months, objecting to a widening that they fear will encourage more semi traffic.

        Ohio 63 follows Main Street on the west side of town and Ohio 123 follows it on the east. Truckers use the road to cut between Interstates 71 and 75.

        The $10 million project would remove residential parking along both sides to make room for a middle turn lane that will bring traffic closer to historic homes. It also would level a hump in the street and install new sewer and underground electrical lines.

        The city has been trying to get the street repaired for about 30 years, and state officials told council in July that they won't help pay for the work if the city won't allow the widening.

        “Main Street needs to be fixed bad, and the city can't afford to do it on their own,” said Councilman Ron Pandorf. “It's an unsafe, hazardous street.”

        Only one council member — Mark Flick — has gone on record opposing the project, but business owners promise to step up the pressure on them to stop it.

       



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