Saturday, October 26, 2002

Green Twp. trustees square off

Rybolt, I-74, Harrison congestion fix is focus

By Angela Koenig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GREEN TOWNSHIP - Township trustees are at odds over what should be done to alleviate traffic congestion at the Rybolt Road, Interstate 74 and Harrison Avenue interchanges.

This cluster of intersections ranks second in the township in accident frequency. In 2001 there were 24 accidents here.

"To do nothing would be a very, very poor choice,'' Trustee Tony Upton said of two proposals now before trustees.

The first proposal is a flyover ramp that would take eastbound traffic exiting I-74 at Rybolt Road and feed it directly into Harrison Avenue. Cost of this project is estimated at $10 million, which would have to be federally funded, and could take a decade to complete. The second proposal is to realign Rybolt Road, at a cost of about $3 million. It would require state, county and township funds and could be completed in two to three years.

The township's contribution, said Township Administrator Kevin Celarek, "could be between $750,000 and a maximum of $1 million."

Trustees Paul Rattermann and Tony Upton both favor the realignment option.

"To me, if we can expedite the process and get the problem solved, and also possibly save lives, then it's money well spent," said Mr. Rattermann.

"It's common sense," said Mr. Upton, adding that the township's portion could be paid for with tax increment financing (TIF).

TIF funds are taxes paid on improvements, such as commercial development or housing, that are set aside to spend on capital improvement projects, such as infrastructure. According to Mr. Celarek, the TIF fund will have a balance of $2.6 million after 2002 expenses.

Trustee Steve Grote, however, is adamantly opposed to the realignment.

"It doesn't matter which way we move Rybolt Road, you're just shifting the problem," to new intersections, he said. He also claims the realignment would create an unfair advantage for some property owners, whose land will become more attractive for redevelopment.

"The township shouldn't pick winners and losers in the development game," he said, stressing the problem isn't as great as officials are making it out to be.

"We're not looking at a situation that needs something done tomorrow," said Mr. Grote.

The proposals were to go before trustees at meeting Monday, but have been moved to Nov. 11 agenda. Only two votes are needed to endorse either proposal. None of the trustees expressed support for the flyover ramp.

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