Sunday, August 31, 2003

Wal-Mart move stirs up West Chester traffic fears

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Traffic snarled on westbound Tylersville Road on Friday.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
WEST CHESTER TWP. - The looming vacancy of a Wal-Mart store on 34 acres at Tylersville Road and Interstate 75 in this burgeoning Butler County suburb has re-ignited concerns about suburban sprawl.

Eyebrows shot up last week after a co-owner of a Ford dealership said Woody Sander Ford off I-75 in Winton Place was considering moving to the corner, after Wal-Mart relocates one exit south to a supercenter location. But the next day, William Sander said the move was off due to a "fly in the ointment."

Township leaders say another car dealership could go there.

If that happens, a chief worry for residents would be increased congestions on Tylersville, which sees more than 53,000 vehicles a day. The main east-west thoroughfare runs through the northern part of West Chester, links Warren to Butler County and is regularly packed with cars during rush hour and weekends, placing it among Greater Cincinnati traffic quagmires like Colerain and Beechmont avenues and Fields Ertel Road.

Residents who live in the Ivory Hills subdivision off Tylersville, next to Wal-Mart, worry about what will come next.

They say that since Wal-Mart opened near their $200,000 homes in 1995, traffic on Tylersville has become unbearable.

William Dees, who has lived in Ivory Hills for 10 years in a home that now borders Wal-Mart, said township officials aren't properly planning growth or protecting residents.

"They are moving commercial business into your residential home sites," Dees, 53, said. "I would rather them tear (Wal-Mart) down and build homes, but they are not going to do that. We only live one-tenth of a mile from the expressway and there are times it takes 20 minutes to get there."

West Chester Administrator Dave Gully was confident that other businesses, and even other car dealerships, would be interested in filling that key corner.

"It's not like it's in a corn field," Gully noted. "It's got interstate visibility and all the utilities and infrastructure already is there."

Liberty Township and Butler County officials are pushing to extend the existing Michael A. Fox Highway east at I-75, creating a new exit off the highway into Liberty, which saw a 147 percent jump in population during the 1990s.

If built, the new interchange would link to an extended Cox Road, which intersects Tylersville at one of its busiest intersections. The new exit is expected to relieve congestion on Tylersville but isn't a done deal.

Even if approved, Liberty Township Administrator Barry Tiffany predicts construction would not begin for at least three years.


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