Monday, March 19, 2001

Newport residents watching underpass fix-up




By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT - City Manager Phil Ciafardini walked into the Walgreen drug store at the shopping center the other day and three people stopped him to ask about the construction at the nearby Monmouth Street underpass.

        “It's the hottest topic in town right now,” Mr. Ciafardini said with a grin. “There are all kinds of rumors going around as to why one of the walls of the underpass has been torn down.”

        The answer to all the questions from residents who have called the city administration offices or stopped city workers on the street is simple: the state has torn down the wall on the east side of the underpass. And instead of replacing it, the work crews are grading the ground in preparation for seeding and landscaping.

        The cavern-like underpass, which permits the CSX train tracks and a Trauth Dairy connector road to pass over Monmouth Street (U.S. 27) from 11th Street to Carothers Road, has been in need of repairs for several years.

        “The state highway department is alleviating the problems with the wall with grading and seeding, rather than rebuilding the wall,” Mr. Ciafardini said. “We've been working with the state to get the best possible landscaping and rebuilding the sidewalks. We think it's going to look great and be a real plus for the neighborhood.”
       

Trauth Dairy connection

               The underpass was constructed about 80 years ago, and the high concrete walls were built to protect houses on either side of the street near the railroad tracks. Over the years, the houses were torn down, and Trauth Dairy built its large processing plant.

        One of the rumors making the rounds was that the walls were being torn down and the land graded to make way for a Trauth expansion. Not true.

        For those people who took their lives in their hands ev ery time they tried to pull out of 13th Street onto Monmouth — sticking the noses of their autos out into traffic to see around the high concrete walls — the change will be a welcome one.

        The landscape will be wide open on both sides of 13th Street, with nearly unlimited visibility in both directions of the busy thoroughfare that carries traffic from Cincinnati and Newport to Southgate, Fort Thomas and beyond.
       

12th to close?

               Mr. Ciafardini said the 12th Street entrance to Monmouth could be another issue.

        “City staff and the city commission will examine the need for the two entrance-exit streets from the neighborhood onto Monmouth,” he said. “We're reviewing it. There is a possibility we might want to close 12th Street at Monmouth.”

        At least part of the neighborhood will probably change in the next few years.

        About five blocks of 13th Street, from Monmouth to the Wagon Wheel bridge, are on the list of sites for the Newport Housing Authori ty's Hope VI relocation project, which will eventually move everyone from the 202 units of public housing on Fourth Street to sites around the city.

        If the plan is approved, dozens of older houses would be demolished to make way for new single and double occupancy houses built with some of the $28 million the Housing Authority received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

       



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