Western Hills Viaduct awarded $5M federal grant toward constructing new bridge

CINCINNATI -- The region is $5 million closer toward a new Western Hills Viaduct, the city announced Friday.

In a memo to Mayor John Cranley and City Council, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney announced the County Engineers Association of Ohio will allocate $5 million in federal grant money to finance construction of the new approaches that will eventually connect existing city streets to the new viaduct.

This makes the first grant money that will go toward construction on the project, Duhaney said. Previous funding has gone toward design and planning.

"The (Local Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation) grant program guarantees funding for bridges in counties with the worst bridge conditions," Duhaney wrote. "The Western Hills Viaduct was selected due to its poor condition rating and its importance to the community."

Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard applied for the grant in May, Duhaney said.

The 85-year-old viaduct has been the topic of conversation for years, with a federal bridge rating of 4 out of 10. The aging bridge began making headlines after drivers began noticing cracks in the concrete and chunks fell onto the double-decker's lower deck.

The city and county also have nearly $12 million grant requests pending. In addition to this $5 million grant, $18 million in federal money has gone toward design and property acquisition.

Late last year, the city and Hamilton County each pledged $33 million in funding toward the $335 million replacement project.

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

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