New calls to improve safety on Columbia Parkway after crash

CINCINNATI - Some members of Cincinnati City Council are now calling for a new study of safety on Columbia Parkway after a devastating crash Tuesday that critically injured a Cincinnati Police officer on his way to work.

Council members Leslie Ghiz, Amy Murray, Wayne Lippert and Chris Bortz made their requests at a news conference on Columbia Parkway in Mount Adams Thursday morning.

Ghiz says Columbia Parkway may need safety improvements and changes to reduce the dangers to the 26,000 drivers who use the highway every day.

"Columbia Parkway was built in the 1930s and it is one of the most successful transportation projects in our history," Ghiz said. "But the time has come to study ways to improve safety on the parkway, to protect our citizens."

The six-lane highway is built into hills overlooking the Ohio River. It's unclear if there is room for additional barriers or dividers since Columbia Parkway doesn't have room for breakdown lanes along much of its length.

At the news conference, Ghiz said possible improvements that could be considered for Columbia Parkway would be taking out a lane of the six lanes and putting in a concrete barrier between directions.

Another idea would be to use the discontinued lane to create breakdown lanes where disabled motorists could pull over safely.

Other council members say drivers must slow down on Columbia Parkway. The listed speed limit is 45 mph, but it is well known most motorists go a lot faster than that -- up to 65 mph or more.

"The highway needs to be treated like a parkway, and not an expressway," Ghiz said in the news conference.

Council members say they hope to create a task force that would include Cincinnati police, traffic engineering and other departments to brainstorm solutions that would make the east-west highway safer and less prone to major accidents, like the one Tuesday morning.

Sgt. Ronald Schaeper, the police office injured the crash on Tuesday, remains in critical condition at University Hospital. His doctors say after Sgt. Schaeper received surgery to stop internal bleeding in his legs, his vital signs are improving.

They also say the officer will not need to have his spleen removed, as originally feared.

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