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Bus-only lane on Main St. pilot program can be funded, city manager says

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-25 16:55:48-04

CINCINNATI -- City officials said Wednesday they have found a possible funding source to support a pilot program to test a bus-only lane on Main Street in downtown Cincinnati during the afternoon rush hour.

In a report prepared for City Council, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney said, "The (Department of Transportation and Engineering) and (the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority) recommend moving forward with the pilot program."

The pilot would test a bus-only lane between 3 and 6 p.m. along Main Street between Fifth Street and Central Parkway. The corridor serves more than 100 Cincinnati Metro buses during that time period, Duhaney said.

The grassroots bus advocacy group the Better Bus Coalition first proposed the pilot program back in March. Duhaney issued a subsequent report that recommended the program but also said the administration had not identified a funding source to complete the necessary street work to make it happen.

Main Street at Seventh Street features a curb "bump out," where the curb extends out into the street to decrease the length of the crosswalk. (Google Maps)

Duhaney initially called the program "cost-prohibitive" because it would require removal of a curb bump-out at the intersection of Main and Seventh streets.

A "bump-out" occurs when the curb extends out into a parking lane to reduce the distance pedestrians have to cross from one side of the street to the other. City traffic laws already prohibit vehicles from parking in the right curb lane during the afternoon rush.

In the latest report, Duhaney said, "DOTE has identified an existing capital program, Downtown Infrastructure Improvements, that could be used to complete the work."

The cost to remove the bump-out and add new signage is estimated at roughly $55,000. Duhaney originally projected the cost of implementation at $150,000.

"Removal of the bump-out at 7th Street would allow the right curb lane to be used as a combined through and right turn," Duhaney wrote. "The through traffic could be signed 'Transit Only,' which would allow buses to continue straight through the intersection without having to merge back into traffic.

The initial proposal also included priority traffic signals giving bus traffic a priority along the route during the afternoon rush, but the latest report did not mention new signal timing.

The plan still requires City Council approval. The memo is scheduled on the City Council calendar for July 31. Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld's Education, Innovation and Growth Committee -- where this program was first introduced -- meets that Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.