Thursday, February 07, 2002

Main St. widening upsets some in Mason

Business owners fear loss of small-town feel

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The proposed widening of part of U.S. 42 — the gateway to the downtown business district — has some business owners concerned that the improvements will actually hurt business.

        This month, City Council is expected to award a contract for the design of U.S. 42 between Fifth Avenue and Tylersville Road. The scope of the project has not been decided, but city leaders have suggested the road be widened from two to four lanes with turn lanes and medians.

        Richard Cox, president of Al's Heating and Cooling on U.S. 42, said he and other business owners oppose widening the road to four lanes.

        “We don't mind improvement, but not four lanes. That kills businesses,” Mr. Cox said, explaining that his business would be less accessible because of additional traffic.

        While the widening would seemingly improve traffic flow and increase business activity, some see it as another threat to the effort to preserve the small-town feel in the downtown of Ohio's second-fastest-growing city.

        Councilman Victor Kidd understands the latter perception. However, he said traffic projections for the downtown area call for city leaders to act.

        “The very same people who do not want growth now ... would be the same people who are furious that we didn't plan ahead come five, 10 years down the road when we have these major traffic problems,” Mr. Kidd said.

        Mason has been awarded a grant from the state to help pay for about $400,000 of the proposed $1 million U.S. 42 widening project. “They're envisioning four lanes, superhighway kind of thing. That's not what this is going to be,” Mr. Kidd said. “The idea is simply to (create) a pressure relief for some of the traffic.”

        Some business owners fear their sites will be taken by the city and torn down to make room for the road project — decisions city officials say have not been made.

        Christine Foley, manager of Angilo's Pizza on Main Street, fears that the family-owned business could be shut down due to the proposed road project.

        “I definitely know it will hurt us. We've talked to a lot of people around town, and they're not very happy about it,” Ms. Foley said. “It's frustrating because it's not fair.”

        A related project, which was endorsed by City Council at a work session Monday, calls for a three-lane road through the downtown area.

        The proposed road would run along Second Avenue and Short Street, then cross Muddy Creek via a new bridge and end at Mason-Montgomery Road.


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