HAMILTON, Ohio — One hundred years in the making, the long-awaited South Hamilton Crossing opened Friday with the promise of easier access and more economic development on the south side.
"Access to the area has always just really been an issue,” said Jody Gunderson, the city’s Director of Economic Development. “We'd bring prospects in and the first thing that we would hear from them is, ‘How do you get here?’ "
The crossing connects Grand Boulevard to the east to University Boulevard to the west. It also removes the obstacle of train traffic.
"It was a very complicated project because we're in an old part of the community (with) all sorts of utilities,” said David Spinney, Director of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District. “So, it was about two and a half years of construction to move this project to where we are today."
The area is already designated a federal opportunity zone. The hope is the overpass will spark development in the area by making it easier to get from Point A to Point B.
"This is great for our citizens, for our visitors, for students getting back and forth to Miami University, great for the local businesses," said Mayor Pat Moeller.
"It's a long time in coming,” said Gunderson. “It's a project they've talked about for over 100 years."
The overpass, which is also open to bicyclists and pedestrians, will be known as the Jim Blount Overpass, named for the long-time Hamilton historian who died last year. Blount was the leader of the project. His wife Jackie was in the first car to cross the bridge Friday.