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CINCINNATI - If you drive Interstate 71 and want to get to the Uptown area, it's easy to get lost in a maze of streets.
Now, with the city parking lease moving forward, $10 million is available to help build the proposed I-71 interchange at Martin Luther King Drive.
It means jobs and easier access into the area.
Cathy Sherbs knows the way. She brought children from her Hamilton day care to the Cincinnati Zoo Friday. But Sherbs knows others have problems getting there.
"I think you'd do a lot of around and around. I think it would be difficult to find your way," Sherbs said.
But the new interchange would provide direct access to the zoo's new Vine Street entrance.
"It will be perfect for us," said Thane Maynard, the zoo's executive director. "Our zoo attracts 1.5 million people a year. Making it easier to get here and get out is actually great."
Some 300,000 vehicles flood into the Uptown area every day.
About 50,000 people work at institutions like Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati, UC Medical Center and UC Health. UC Health has 7,000 employees uptown and more direct access could mean more hires.
"Just as it is critical from our perspective for our patients and visitors to have easy access, we think it's important for our employees as well," said Anthony Condia, Chief Marketing Officer of UC Health.
Building the interchange will mean hundreds of jobs and an economic impact of $131 million. When the work is done, between 5,900 and 7,000 new jobs could be created.
Beth A. Robinson, President and CEO of the Uptown Consortium, thinks even more jobs are possible.
"When you consider the trajectory of growth among the institutions here in Uptown and then undeveloped and under-developed land around the interchange, I think it will prove over time maybe to be a conservative estimate," Robinson said.
A study estimates the economic impact of a finished interchange to be $750 million -- with $33 million in taxes going to the city and $20 million to Hamilton County.
Work is expected to begin in July of 2014.
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