Lytle Tunnel takes Park one step closer to restoration

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A major renovation is in the works for downtown Cincinnati.

The Lytle Tunnel moves about 75,000 cars a day along I-71.

The popular thoroughfare is about to get a $34 million dollar face-lift.

It would be the first major renovation since the tunnel opened in 1970 and supporters of  project say it could jump-start the overhaul of Historic Lytle Park as well as attract new businesses, apartments and condos.

"The park was done in about 1970 when I-71 was built through it," said Steven Shuckman with Cincinnati Parks. "Parks do need refurbishing and there hasn't been a lot of major changes here since it was originally built."

State taxpayers will pick up the tab on the Lytle Tunnel project. "The tiles need to be replaced. The lighting system will be replaced with a more efficient lighting system and the ventilation system can't handle the volume of traffic that goes through there now," said Sharon Smigielski with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The installation of this new ventilation system will destroy 25% of the green space at the park above but leave the Cincinnati Park Board with millions of dollars to rebuild.

"I think its great how it is now. I have no complaints. But I'm sure if they're spending $6 million I think its going to be six million times better," said area resident, Jeff Westermeyer.

The Lytle Tunnel restoration project is will take several years to complete but could begin as early as the middle of next year. As for Lytle Park, officials say closing part of it for about a year is a small price to pay for what they will be getting in return.

Once the $6-million is secured through ODOT, Cincinnati parks officials say they will be able to leverage that money to fund the entire Lytle Park restoration project