Thursday, May 15, 2003

New roads connect ballpark, river, downtown

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Several new roads that will make Great American Ball Park and the riverfront easier to reach are taking shape amid the sea of construction around the ballpark.

A section of New Mehring Way just south of the ballpark from Broadway to Main Street is now expected to be finished six months early - by the time Tall Stacks rolls around in October, according to Tom Kohorst, project director for Messer Construction. Meanwhile, the extension of Main Street to New Mehring is still on track to be finished by Opening Day 2004.

"We're setting the framework and reconnecting downtown to the riverfront," said Mark McKillip, city project director. "It was sort of hard to get around the central riverfront before, actually."

The new road grid is a city-county effort, with the county directing construction as an extension of the Great American Ball Park project. The city is putting up much of the money, and the Cincinnati Park Board is designing a park for the area east of Race Street and south of Theodore M. Berry Way."This is a great example of how well the city and county actually work together," McKillip said, noting the work is on schedule and within budget.

The street grid and riverfront parking are expected to cost $94.9 million.

Other roads on the drawing board include a southern extension of Walnut Street and Freedom Way, an east-west road just south of the new Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The city is hoping to find the money to build Theodore M. Berry Way between Walnut and Main in 2004, McKillip said.

The city also is taking the opportunity to bury utilities such as telephone and electric lines.

New Mehring Way will run farther north than the current two-lane road, hugging the south side of Great American Ball Park with a four-lane boulevard and a sidewalk. Traffic in the construction zone is expected to be moved from Old Mehring to the two northern lanes of New Mehring in about a month, Kohorst said, so construction can start on the southern half of the new road.

"You in essence are doubling the usable perimeter around the ballpark," said Mike Sieving, Hamilton County construction executive

On the south side of New Mehring, the Cincinnati Park Board's planned riverfront park would extend dry land about 120 feet into the Ohio River to create a grassy area that will slope to a lower promenade, according to David Prather, the park board's supervising architect. It's part of a $60 million park plan for the area east of Race Street to the existing Sawyer Point/Yeatman's Cove area.


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