Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Main Street work delayed until 2002

Lebanon project concerns some residents

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Oft-criticized plans to rebuild Main Street have been delayed again, with the expected start of construction now pushed from this spring to early 2002.

        “There's too many loose ends to tie up at this point,” said Kim Patton, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 8 office.

        The biggest loose end, Ms. Patton said Monday, is the city's desire to detour one lane of traffic into a railway right of way that will eventually be a bike path. The temporary road, which Lebanon says will run from about Broadway to Mound Street, still has to be de signed and built.

        “It's so frustrating because we're so close,” city Planning Director Marty Kohler said.

        But shopkeepers and homeowners who oppose the $12 million project are glad for the extra time to try to persuade state and local officials to make some changes.

        “We'd like to see (the construction) done in a small way so that traffic is not disturbed in town so that businesses can thrive,” said Ken Haley, president of the city's downtown merchants group.

        About 20 Main Street homeowners are fighting the city's attempt to seize parts of their properties through eminent domain.

        Gary and Marianne Casimir sought dismissal of the city's lawsuit over the easements Friday, claiming City Council did not properly introduce or read an ordinance authorizing the action. City Attorney Mark Yurick could not be reached for comment Monday.

        “We still want the project done, but we don't want to lose our homes in the process,” Mrs. Casimir said.

        Residents are concerned that the project will remove parking along their street in favor of a center turn lane.

        ODOT and the city are working on a modified Option Four of the four construction alternatives presented to residents in October. It would take the longest — 19 months — but would keep at least one lane open for the project's duration.

        An overhaul of the two-mile stretch of Main Street — which doubles as Ohio 63 on the west side and Ohio 123 on the east side — has been in the works for 30 years. The sewer lines underneath it are in critical condition, officials say.


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