Monday, April 28, 2003

Fairfield has revised plan for Ohio 4

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - After merchants complained last year, an Ohio 4 revitalization plan has been reworked to allow more access into businesses and more landscaping.

Another controversial proposal, U-turns instead of direct access to some businesses to improve safety, also has been eliminated, Fairfield Councilman Mark Scharringhausen said.

"We are trying to strike a balance here and move forward," he said. "I can't estimate the number of curb cuts that would be closed, but I think you will see an effort to enhance the movement of traffic up and down (Ohio) 4, but not choke off any particular business."

Fairfield leaders want to clean up and make safety improvements along the strip, which carries about 42,000 vehicles daily and is dotted with some 350 businesses.

Ohio 4 also is lined with dozens of vacant buildings - especially as the road creeps closer to Hamilton - and is the scene of a high number of accidents.

In meetings last year, business owners along Fairfield's main thoroughfare had worried they would lose access into their buildings, and customers. Some even formed a coalition to protect their interests.

Though the revitalization plan has stalled, it has not been forgotten and council members will hear a slightly new version today at a 6 p.m. work session.

"We have been looking for a long time at how we can make Route 4 easier to access and how we could spruce it up. There are parts of it that are just downright unappealing," Scharringhausen said.

But some business owners still worry the city could seize their property through eminent domain and reduce their access to the thoroughfare.

Last year, merchants requested the speed limit be reduced from 50 mph in some areas to 35 mph to slow down potential customers.

Many Ohio 4 business owners and Tom Burer of Winton Development, a founding member of the Route 4 Coalition, said last week they couldn't comment on the new plan until the city unveils it. The coalition is made up of about 50 business and landowners.

The four-lane road stretches 5 miles through Fairfield north to Hamilton. In the past three years, it saw 1,280 accidents - a high number for a road its size, according to project consultants. That's partly because the road has so many inlets

The city has earmarked $2 million for the plan over the next four years.


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