Saturday, June 01, 2002

Residents cheer demolition

What's left of failed Colerain Connector coming down

By Allen Howard,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Residents stood by and cheered Friday morning as nine shovels were plunged into a mound near Virginia Avenue in Northside, signaling the end of the last remnant of the failed Colerain Connector.

        “I never thought I would live to see this day,” said Mary Jackson of Firtree Court. Mrs. Jackson, a lifelong Northside resident, was among the first to protest building the Colerain Connector, a plan by officials of the city of Cincinnati and the Ohio Department of Transportation to ease traffic along the Colerain Avenue corridor.

        “I have been fighting for 40 years along with other residents to get this stopped. Now it is finally here,” Mrs. Jackson said.

        The Colerain Connector was part of a plan to build a superhighway from Interstate 275 south along Colerain Avenue and connect to Interstate 74. The connector would run from I-74, north across Virginia Avenue with parts of it connecting to Colerain Avenue and part connecting to Hamilton Avenue. Forty years ago, the idea was believed to be the solution to the flow of 47,000 daily vehicles on Colerain Avenue that usually formed a traffic jam during rush hours at the intersection of Colerain Avenue, West Fork and Virginia Avenue.

        The connector would involve 19.3 acres in a residential area, stretching 1.4 miles and taking 200 homes. After the houses were taken, the plan began to bog down and piles of dirt where the road was to be built over Virginia Avenue became an eyesore.

        Former state Rep. William Mallory Sr. joined with Northside residents in 1965 to oppose the connector.

        “I looked at the plan and I decided with the residents that we wanted the houses back,” Mr. Mallory said.

        His son, state Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati, took up the fight and led the Ohio General Assembly to approve funds for leveling the mound.

        “We are returning it to the community,” Mr. Mallory said. “Plans call for building some homes, preserving greenspace, a park and bike area. Today the residents celebrate the defeat of progress. But the progress was the kind that would destroy the sanctity of the community.”

        ODOT District 8 Deputy Director Mike Flynn said ODOT will spend $139,689 to tear down the mound.

        The city of Cincinnati will help foot the bill to replace the houses and preserve the area.

        “Demolition is set to start Monday and we expect to be finished Aug. 31,” Mr. Flynn said.

        He said no work will be done on the demolition between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

        During the ceremony, Mr. Mallory presented a commendation from the Ohio General Assembly to Stephanie Sunderland, one of the original members of the Coalition of the Colerain Connector.

        “This recognition goes to all the residents,” said Mrs. Sunderland, of Georgia Street, Northside. “We met practically every week for almost 40 years.”


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