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Cincinnati Eastern Bypass tagged as nation's top 'highway boondoggle' in 2020 report

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 20:46:37-05

Describing Greater Cincinnati transportation projects as "boondoggles" is not a new phenomenon, but that list got a new entry last month: the Eastern Bypass Project.

The proposed 67-mile bypass highway was listed as the nation's top "highway boondoggle" in a Nov. 20 report published by the environmental think tank Frontier Group and the national public interest watchdog group U.S. PIRG.

"Ohio's plan to build a...bypass around the eastern side of Cincinnati would cause sprawling development and overwhelm the Ohio Department of Transportation's construction budget," the authors state in the report. "If built, the highway is likely to increase pollution and sprawl, and to draw economic activity away from downtown Cincinnati."

ODOT officials seemed to agree with the report's assessment in their own briefing to the Ohio General Assembly a year earlier, when they wrote: "When the costs and time associated delivery of the (Cincinnati Eastern Bypass) are evaluated with the known benefits... it is ODOT's opinion that no further expenditures of funding and staff time be put toward the CEB."

ODOT estimated the new highway -- which would cut through Clermont and Warren counties in Ohio and at least three counties in Northern Kentucky -- would cost anywhere from $5.4 billion to $7.3 billion to construct.

Supporters of the project have said the new bypass would alleviate growing traffic congestion along the Interstate 71/75 and Interstate 275 corridors in Northern Kentucky. ODOT's 2019 report acknowledged the bypass might relieve some congestion on the Brent Spence Bridge but not along the I-75 corridor at large.

USP Boondoggles Report, Nov. 20, 2020 by WCPO Web Team on Scribd