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Eastern Corridor project: Hamilton, Clermont county residents debate pros, cons of development
Jessica Noll, WCPO Digital
4:52 PM, Mar 25, 2013
5:24 PM, Mar 25, 2013
MADISONVILLE - Leaders and concerned citizens of Madisonville and neighboring communities are coming together to have a conversation on whether or not to "bridge" the gap between eastern Hamilton and western Clermont counties. That ‘bridge' is the Eastern Corridor.
The Madisonville Community Council invited leaders and residents from neighboring communities to attend its regular public meeting Thursday night. Attendees discussed the Eastern Corridor Project and how it may affect their daily lives, especially their commutes and their livelihood.
About 60 people packed into the Madisonville Recreation Center to learn more about the project and to voice their opinions and concerns.
So what is the Eastern Corridor?
According to EasternCorridor.org, and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, the project has been officially in the works since 1999, but under discussion for more than 40 years.
The Eastern Corridor is divided into four projects:
Red Bank Corridor Project
State Route 32 (SR 32) Relocation Project
State Route 32 (SR 32) Improvements, Eastgate Area
Oasis Rail Transit
Spearheaded by ODOT, it would provide multiple modes of transportation to "enhance mobility and connectivity throughout the corridor."
Those would include:
Improvements to existing road networks
New and expanded roadways
New rail transit
Expanded bus routes
Improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists
Minds on Madisonville
The portion of the Eastern Corridor Project that impacts the Madisonville community is the expansion of Red Bank Road.
The Red Bank Corridor project's goal is to balance mobility and access needs by:
Reducing existing congestion and delays along Red Bank Expressway, particularly at major intersections with Madison, Duck Creek and Brotherton roads
Improving accessibility, safety and flow of traffic
Increasing capacity to better support current and future traffic volumes
Providing accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians
But Madisonville leaders, like Community Council President Bob Igoe, fear the Red Bank Road Corridor Project will be bad for the area, especially the one-mile stretch of Madison Road included in the project.
"If you build it, you will sit in traffic," said Igoe. "Madisonville is one of the fastest growing white-collar communities in Cincinnati, we don't want to halt that."
Igoe believes that if the corridor plans go through, local businesses will suffer.
"For our business district, it's successful because there's more access to it. If we re-route everyone past it, we'll be another Batavia," he said, referring to when St. Rt. 32 bypassed Batavia's downtown district.
Some Madisonville residents don't necessarily think the corridor will affect business. They're mostly skeptical that the project will even happen in their lifetime.
"I think I'll be passed to glory before it gets done," said Barbara Jackson, 69, who has lived in Madisonville for 60 years.%page_break%
What the neighbors think
People from neighboring communities were at Thursday's meeting to talk about their own concerns with the plan.
Mariemont Councilman Joe Stelzer voiced his concerns about the disruption that the corridor would create to his community's South 80 Trails, as well as Mariemont's status as a National Historical Landmark.
"We really don't want to see this highway go through and destroy the area," said Stelzer, who said that Mariemont would like to expand the South 80 Trails, but the traffic noise would "destroy that experience."
He asked, "We object to this because of the limited amount of green space—do we really want to pave over it?"
Portune, through his position with the county, is working with the City of Cincinnati and ODOT on the project, gave hope to people at the meeting that Eastern Corridor project was going through several changes and that no decisions have been made. With that said, he expressed that he would like to see the Oasis Rail Transit system in place by the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
He said that he believes this project will be "transportation enhancement with community development" reaching 17 jurisdictions, 70 square miles and 135,000 people.
"This will only work if it works for the communities it runs through," reassured Portune. "No decisions have been made and you're going to steer where that goes."
So after 40 years of talk, what's next for Madisonville? Igoe said that the Madisonville Community Council would meet with ODOT representatives within the next month to discuss the designs and make some decisions.
The council will then hold another public meeting about the matter