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Cranley: Columbia Parkway could be under construction over the next two years

Mayor pitches $17M plan to stop landslides long term
Posted at 10:51 AM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 20:00:55-04

CINCINNATI -- Parts of Columbia Parkway would be closed for the next two years under a plan to shore up the hillside and stop recurring landslides, Mayor John Cranley said at a Wednesday news conference.

At a minimum, two lanes of the parkway will be shut down for the next two years, and the 30,000 commuters who drive it each day should prepare for delays and restricted access, Cranley said.

Sometimes, the entire road will be closed.

"This is a major inconvenience to tens of thousands of people everyday and will be for the next two years," Cranley said. "But it's also the case that we have an obligation to fix it and to fix it right."

Cranley estimated that the planned fix - a series of new walls and staples along the 6 miles between Bains Street and Torrence Parkway - would cost at least $17 million, and officials don't know yet where they would get the money. They have applied for federal funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Cranley said the city will apply for "every and any grant ... in order to save local tax dollars."

But the days of trying to patch the problem after each landslide are over, Cranley said.

"We're not going to put a Band-Aid on, and we're not going to kick the can down the road," Cranley said. "There are clearly major geological landslides that have happened over the last several months that are clearly indicative of a bigger problem than a temporary fix."

Watch the full news conference in the player below:

The plan is designed to secure the hillside for the next 30 to 50 years. Joe Vogel, city director of Transportation and Engineering, said the plan includes fixes for 12 active landslides between Bains and Torrence.

Vogel said landslides have been a challenge for the city for decades, but they've been especially prevalent over the last four years. Landslides have closed Columbia Parkway seven times this year alone.

Columbia Parkway has three inbound and three outbound lanes. Officials are trying to come up with a plan that would allow two lanes inbound and two lanes outbound to be open during rush hour, Cranley said. Officials will also consider reconfiguring Riverside Drive to accommodate for the loss of capacity along Columbia Parkway.

City officials recently submitted an emergency $900,000 contract to repair a March 25 landslide east of Beechmont Avenue, Vogel said. The work is underway. On Wednesday, City Council transferred $750,000 in reserves to fix the most recent slide near Torrence.

"Literally the reason we have a rainy day fund is for things like this," said councilmember Chris Seelbach.

The city has only about $4 million in its reserves.

Vogel hopes to present the plan to City Council in the next two weeks.