Westsiders ask Cincinnati officials to consider transit options - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Westsiders ask Cincinnati officials to consider transit options for Western Hills Viaduct project

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WESTERN HILLS (FOX19) -

At more than 80 years old, the Western Hills Viaduct is set for a facelift in the coming years. 

Plans are in the works to either replace or repair the bridge that's considered "structurally deficient" and "functionally obsolete."
 
Residents in the Tri-State could call it a major artery of the city, and it's only a half-mile long. 55,000 vehicles use the Western Hills Viaduct each day to get from point A to point B. However, the time has come for an upgrade.
 
"If we're going to build a new bridge, where does it need to be? Or, could we rehab the bridge that's there and make that work for another 60 or 75 years," said Michael Moore, Director of Transportation and Engineering for the city of Cincinnati.
 
Moore says studies show that repairing the bridge just won't work. To repair it comes with a $160 million price tag, but it has a shorter life expectancy.  To replace it would come with a $240 million price tag. 
 
Some residents hope a plan includes some other transportation options.
 
"Now is the time, when you're in these early planning stages to design it appropriately that there's future options available for future generations," said Pete Witte, Westside resident and activist.
 
Ideas for options could include a streetcar, light rail or bus rapid transit, all of which Witte and other residents brought to a city council committee on Wednesday.
 
"We need to make sure that there is connectivity, that we are connected to education.  We're connected to jobs.  We need to do it in a way that a younger generation is interested in," said Witte.
 
A streetcar of bus rapid transit would affect the design details.  But, a light rail option, something that's been discussed at length statewide, would make the bridge bigger, according to Moore.
 
Either way, with construction still years away, this is a perfect time for the conversation.
 
"It's a lot of money for us just to do the bridge.  Going forward, what we're going to have to do is make sure that we create a project that we don't preclude those future options," Moore told FOX19.
 
The existing bridge was overhauled in 1977.  It's one of the more than 20 owned by Hamilton County that the city of Cincinnati maintains.

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