River Road will (eventually) get new traffic signal near Fernbank Park, Cabana

CINCINNATI -- A street linking the city's Sayler Park neighborhood to a popular restaurant, marina, brewery and regional park will get a traffic signal and crosswalk -- eventually.

It's at the intersection of River Road and Thornton Avenue, where 23-year-old Elise Earley died in a crash July 27. Somebody else wrecked there a few days later.

Because a traffic signal won't be ready for at least a year, and likely much longer, the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering is looking at some short-term fixes like signs and streetlights.

On the south side of River Road, Thornton is the entrance to Fernbank Park, 13 Below Brewery, Cabana on the River and Mariner's Landing Marina. On the north side, it's a major entrance to Sayler Park, with a sculpture of an eastern Woodlands Native American in a small triangular plaza.

Janet McGill has lived nearby for decades and has seen a few crashes. A motorcycle was involved in a recent wreck. McGill said she was in her driveway when she heard it. She turned and saw a fender and other debris flying into the air.

"It's a congested corner, and people just drive too fast," she said.

Putting in a traffic signal and crosswalk is complicated, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney said, because there are a few train tracks on the south side of the intersection. That means the signal's timing has to work a bit differently when trains approach, which happens 11 times a day.

"Especially if the train is coming and you're waiting, there sometimes is a line on River Road to get into the park," said Jackie Lillis. She and her dog, Savannah, go to Fernbank almost every day.

The project should cost about $1.6 million. A federal grant will pay for up to $923,000, but right now, that funding won't be available until 2021 or 2022.

So you might see these changes a lot sooner:

  • tree trimming along the railroad tracks to make it easier to see cross-traffic
  • intersection warning signs on River Road and new speed limit signs
  • flashing yellow warning lights
  • new streetlights, or tree trimming around street lights already there
  • a "YOUR SPEED IS" sign on River road

Dylan Dority, who lives down the road in Addyston, said the long-term plan of a crosswalk and traffic signal will be best. He'd also like to see a bike lane.

"It would really allow drivers to feel like they need to slow down," he said.

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