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Cincinnati: Wasson Way Trail

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As this feasibility study deals with the construction of the Wasson Way bike trail (while preserving the right-of-way for future use), I created this new thread in Roads & Biking.


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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Costs for Wasson Way bike trail vary widely

Chris Wetterich Staff reporter- Cincinnati Business Courier

 

 

Supporters of the Wasson Way bike trail have revealed three options for construction of the bike path through Cincinnati’s East Side – and they vary widely in both their cost and how much room they leave for a potential commuter rail line to co-exist along the corridor.

 

The Wasson line runs from Xavier University eastward, near heavily populated East Side communities like Norwood, Hyde Park and Oakley, which have a population of 100,000.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/06/25/costs-for-wasson-way-bike-trail-vary-widely.html

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What appears to be replacement ties (note orange paint on old ties) as far as the eye can see were recently delivered. Why replace if your going to sell to the city?


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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Who owns/manages that segment? CSX in Louisville is replacing all the ties around here as well - everything is all tore up.

 

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That's too bad.  Such a deserving and potentially transformative project.

 

Do you think last December's streetcar debacle hurt our area's chances for TIGER grants?


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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Fight over Wasson Way rail, or something more?

 

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black's abrupt decision this week to pull a transportation item from the City Planning Commission agenda is being viewed by some as a way to strip the commission of its independence and as a slap in the face to rail transit supporters.

 

Black, however, says he was within his rights to pull the Wasson Way project off Friday's agenda, and he said made the decision because the plan for what do with the East Side railway needs more vetting.

 

The planning commission is outlined in the city's charter. It vets all land-use issues, which includes approving real estate, transit and other economic development projects. Cincinnati City Council does have the authority to overturn commission decisions with a supermajority of six votes.

 

Cont


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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All Aboard Ohio ‏@AllAboardOhio  3h3 hours ago

If Cincinnati Planning OKs it, #WassonWay could offer multimodal benefits of this ex-RR corridor in Salt Lake City.

 

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"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Wasson Way posted a <a href="

on Facebook</a> of how the bike and walk paths might be configured along Wasson near the intersections of Shaw and Michigan:

One of our great supporters, Chris Wyatt, put together this very interesting manipulation of an aerial photograph by Jake Mecklenborg. While these are Chris' ideas there are some important concepts that deserve serious consideration...1) connect Oakley to the WW with sidewalks...a very common opinion expressed by Oakley residents in our meetings, 2) extend the curb on north side of Wasson into the street so pedestrians have shorter distance to cross the street-an idea pushed by pedestrian safety experts, 3) by curving the Trail as it approaches the side streets it allows cars enough room to get off of Wasson Road and yield to Trail users...and it serves as a notice to bike riders to slow down at the side streets, 4) paint the crossings with a green paint to alert everyone of a traffic situation. If you would like to get Chris to help you with a project... christophernealwyatt@gmail.com

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This would be such an amazing upgrade for this stretch of Oakley/Hyde Park.  I really hope Wasson Way progresses, and connects Xavier/Evanston with the Little Miami bikeway.  What an amazing asset that would open up to so many people.  I think the most exciting aspect of this project is the connection that residents in the city will have to the countryside and vast network of trails in the eastern burbs/Little Miami area. Everyone knows that going East-West in Cincinnati is more difficult than traveling North-South, and this project will significantly increase access and connectivity between neighborhoods going E-W. I think it could really be a huge boon to business districts on the East side, and could take Cincinnati bicycling to the next level, where it becomes a viable transit option for a large number of people.

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I don't see any room for rail in this mock up.

 

Wasson Way posted a <a href="

on Facebook</a> of how the bike and walk paths might be configured along Wasson near the intersections of Shaw and Michigan:

One of our great supporters, Chris Wyatt, put together this very interesting manipulation of an aerial photograph by Jake Mecklenborg. While these are Chris' ideas there are some important concepts that deserve serious consideration...1) connect Oakley to the WW with sidewalks...a very common opinion expressed by Oakley residents in our meetings, 2) extend the curb on north side of Wasson into the street so pedestrians have shorter distance to cross the street-an idea pushed by pedestrian safety experts, 3) by curving the Trail as it approaches the side streets it allows cars enough room to get off of Wasson Road and yield to Trail users...and it serves as a notice to bike riders to slow down at the side streets, 4) paint the crossings with a green paint to alert everyone of a traffic situation. If you would like to get Chris to help you with a project... christophernealwyatt@gmail.com

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3) by curving the Trail as it approaches the side streets it allows cars enough room to get off of Wasson Road and yield to Trail users...and it serves as a notice to bike riders to slow down at the side streets

 

It's not mentioned in this description, but it looks like this is being used as a way of enabling cyclists to maintain right-of-way (as in precedence) over automobiles -- so the cyclists don't get a stop sign but are forced to slow down. Does anyone know where this has been implemented and/or studied? I'm not sure I like it (I'm not sure fast-moving cyclists in a cycle track are such a danger to pedestrians that they need to be inconvenienced categorically; if auto-cyclist conflicts are the worry there are other possible design solutions), but it's an interesting idea.

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I don't see any room for rail in this mock up.

 

Wasson Way posted a <a href="

on Facebook</a> of how the bike and walk paths might be configured along Wasson near the intersections of Shaw and Michigan:

One of our great supporters, Chris Wyatt, put together this very interesting manipulation of an aerial photograph by Jake Mecklenborg. While these are Chris' ideas there are some important concepts that deserve serious consideration...1) connect Oakley to the WW with sidewalks...a very common opinion expressed by Oakley residents in our

 

Rail can go on Wasson Rd. itself like a streetcar.  But the ideal solution is still a tunnel from the high school east to Paxton. 

 

As for the trail(s), people are thinking about this too much.  It's not that complicated and people aren't so stupid that they're going to keep rolling out into cross-traffic at the tiny cross streets that cross the tracks currently. 

 

 

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Exactly.  He saw the opportunity to block a rail corridor with a bike trail, thereby splitting the so-called "progressive" section of the population.  Make the rail advocates look like the bad guy by taking away the bike trail.  There are of course several ways to do this and have both, but he's going to do whatever it takes to make construction of a future rail line as expensive and disruptive as possible. 

 

 

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http://m.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2015/01/27/exclusive-proposed-east-side-bike-trail-could-be.html

Thought this was interesting. Not only would it be good to cobble the old row back together for the bike path, that would preserve it for light rail use too. If I remember right wasnt one of the problems with the wasson rail idea how to connect it past xavier?

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Cranley is no doubt enthusiastic about this extension because it blocks the cheap and easy way for light rail to connect the hospitals and Xavier University.  By total chance there is a rarely-used pedestrian bridge over Victory Parkway parallel to the double-track railroad bridge which could probably be incorporated into a combined rail/bike situation.  But it doesn't matter -- there is a colony of rabid bike trail people who will be coerced into refusing to compromise in the least. 

 

 

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Has anybody put together a map showing the preferred alignment of rail if it were to connect Xavier to uptown and/or downtown?

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^  I don't know if there is one.  I'm sure Jake will say "Mt. Auburn tunnel" but all these tunnel proposals are just so expensive and impractical.  From a surface running perspective, I think it would have to be something like Reading-Elsinore-Gilbert-McMillan-Woodburn-Xavier. 

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I put together a quick map showing the existing Right of Way (in red) connecting to a street alignment that takes Blair, Reading, MLK, Jefferson, and Vine to connect to the streetcar by Findlay Market. This doesn't solve the very real challenge of the bridges that aren't wide enough for both trail and rail.

 

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zFIqGGosv7MI.kIJeuAgSEySU

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^  I don't know if there is one.  I'm sure Jake will say "Mt. Auburn tunnel" but all these tunnel proposals are just so expensive and impractical.  From a surface running perspective, I think it would have to be something like Reading-Elsinore-Gilbert-McMillan-Woodburn-Xavier. 

 

The tunnels save money over surface routing if the overall route length can be significantly shortened and sped up.  At some point specific to a locality faster operation means fewer trains provide the same frequency of service. 

 

For example tunneling directly to Clifton Ave. at Hughes High School from the northern terminus of the existing streetcar line at McMicken would require about 3,500 ft of track and the tunnel could be traversed in less than one minute.  Traveling from Findlay Market itself up W. Clifton would require about 5,500 feet of track and take at least five minutes longer. 

 

The big variable expense in tunnels is construction of the stations.  In Seattle they recently cut a station from their University Link light rail tunnel for a savings of $250 million. 

 

 

 

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With the Eastern Corridor project probably dead, I'm wondering where the battle lies on Wasson Way trail vs rail vs rail & trail? I haven't heard much lately. Are there any groups working to bring the two advocate groups together so they aren't pitted against each other by the administration?

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With the Eastern Corridor project probably dead, I'm wondering where the battle lies on Wasson Way trail vs rail vs rail & trail? I haven't heard much lately. Are there any groups working to bring the two advocate groups together so they aren't pitted against each other by the administration?

 

There have been many conversations between the pro-rail and pro-bike people in recent years. The two sides had reached an understanding and a plan was moving forward that would allow both. However, I suspect that many of the pro-bike people are no longer willing to consider options that preserve the possibility of rail on that corridor in the future. Might end up being a big fight.

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Cranley is going to block all of the rail right-of-ways in the city that could be used by light rail with bike trails. 

 

I have a sinking feeling that Cranley has gone to the Queen City Bike people and said, "let's push for bike trails on all of these old railroads to block the possibility of light rail ever being built on them." Considering that many of the pro-Wasson Way folks are now pushing for a trail-only option rather than a transportation overlay district (to allow for rail in the future), I think this is a reasonable conclusion.

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Cranley is going to block all of the rail right-of-ways in the city that could be used by light rail with bike trails. 

 

I have a sinking feeling that Cranley has gone to the Queen City Bike people and said, "let's push for bike trails on all of these old railroads to block the possibility of light rail ever being built on them." Considering that many of the pro-Wasson Way folks are now pushing for a trail-only option rather than a transportation overlay district (to allow for rail in the future), I think this is a reasonable conclusion.

 

I'm just amazed that the Hyde Park and Oakley people haven't realized that they're missing out on a 25%+ increase in property values by letting this transit line get blocked. 

 

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In the Business Courier article Friday Chris Wetterich wrote "The city has yet to reach a final agreement with Norfolk Southern to buy the rights to the Wasson Way line. The Cincinnati City Council would have to approve its purchase." Evidently a deal was reached Thursday but is not ready to be announced per a person connected with the Madisonville contengent of the Wasson Way Project. 


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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Cranley is going to block all of the rail right-of-ways in the city that could be used by light rail with bike trails. 

 

I have a sinking feeling that Cranley has gone to the Queen City Bike people and said, "let's push for bike trails on all of these old railroads to block the possibility of light rail ever being built on them." Considering that many of the pro-Wasson Way folks are now pushing for a trail-only option rather than a transportation overlay district (to allow for rail in the future), I think this is a reasonable conclusion.

 

 

I'm just amazed that the Hyde Park and Oakley people haven't realized that they're missing out on a 25%+ increase in property values by letting this transit line get blocked.

 

I was thinking of this.  I believe it is classic NIMBYism.  The Hyde Park Elite do not want more traffic, they don't want mixed unit, more affordable housing.  They simply want to keep the status quo.  That is the only thing this is about. 

 

In Indianapolis, they have the Monon Trail which I believe is also a "Rails to Trails" project.  There is some neat development within about 2 mile stretch.  Most of it is just single family housing turned to restaurants and bars that are just off the path.  I don't know how many people actually use it for transportation but there is definitely a lot of people that use it for recreation.  I don't think you can sell it is a great deal for transportation because of a few factors.  One of them is that it is not cheap for a lot of people to buy a bike.  The second part is, if they want it to be used in the winter months they will need to continuously maintain, salt and remove snow on it.  Not that the operations on that would cost more than a light rail line, but would the operation cost on the margin (per person) cost more?

 

Cranley saying it is transportation is a pure bluff.  He is out of that East Side Elite area, and you can already tell Hyde Park does not want to increase density and have more traffic.  We saw that in a simple story yesterday in switching over a single family home to accommodate office employees on the first floor.

 

Cranley knows that Hyde Park wants to keep the status quo here.  He removed the top planner who was for an overlay district.  All of this is fairly blatant he is protecting special interests.  Everyone knows that it wouldn't be more expensive to create an overlay district and most likely it wouldn't cost a lot of money.

 

In conclusion, it isn't like it would be a horrible thing if this was turned into a trail, but think of the future of this city on the East Side if it can be turned into a light rail corridor.  It will be another hot growth spot to increase the population of the city using TOD and thus spread the wealth to the rest of the city.  The rising tide will lift all neighborhoods close by, including Walnut Hills, Evanston and Avondale.

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Wasson Way Project

 

Hope you are sitting down !!!! The City of Cincinnati and Norfolk Southern have agreed on the terms for the sale of the right-of-way ! This is something that a dedicated group of about 20 volunteers have been working on for four years. The City Administration and Mayor Cranley deserve tremendous credit for their persistence...negotiations were very arduous. Once the contract is signed it will not be a question of "if" but only "when" we build the WW! This week the contract gets presented to City Council...so look for lots of updates.....

 

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Oh please let's cool it with the self-congratulation.  The fact is there's a real risk that this plan will block usage of the corridor by light rail forever, which is why this project gained broad "support". 

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City, railroad move forward on Wasson Way

Jun 1, 2015, 7:17am EDT

Erin Caproni

Cincinnati Business Courier

 

 

The proposed Wasson Way project is closer to becoming a reality.

 

The Wasson Way Project posted on its Facebook page on Sunday that the city of Cincinnati and Norfolk Southern Railroad have agreed to terms for the sale of the right-of-way to construct the planned mixed-use trail that would connect Avondale, Evanston, Paddock Hills, Bond Hill, Norwood, Oakley, Hyde Park, Mount Lookout, Fairfax and Mariemont.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/morning_call/2015/06/city-railroad-move-forward-on-wasson-way.html

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This Enquirer article contains an error I think.  Says rail advocates want the existing tracks for commuter rail. What they want is the possiblity to share the ROW in future for light rail. 

 

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/06/01/city-norfolk-southern-agree-to-trail-sale/28293887/

 

I'm really exicited for this project! I think it's the #2 project in the city with most interesting possibilities behind the streetcar.

 

Would there be room for two sets of light rail tracks (trains in both directions) and the trail?


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I'm torn on this project. I use the bike trail, and I would love to see it go into the city. They'd better be razor sharp about preventing language from enshrining the ROW as trail only forever.

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Oh please let's cool it with the self-congratulation.  The fact is there's a real risk that this plan will block usage of the corridor by light rail forever, which is why this project gained broad "support".

 

I've never understood why rail could be blocked "forever" on this route.  Even if it is turned into a trail, why can't the trail simply be appropriated for public use as transit at some future date?

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I am not aware of a single example of a rails-to-trails project being converted back to rail at a later point in time. Once the community gets used to the bike and walking tail, it will be nearly impossible to add rail later if that is not the vision from the very beginning. (And that is one major reason why Cranley is pushing so hard for this project.)

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Boondoggle.

  I too believe this means a future comprehensive rail system is in jeopardy. Or at least it's cost and timeline would now skyrocket due to land acquisition costs.

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The way I see it is that the Hyde Parkers don't want increased development and density in Hyde Park.  They want to keep the status quo, and Cranley will protect that since he is a Hyde Parker, ML guy himself.  It is good for Hyde Park to have a trail and this and that, so be it.

 

Now, once the Streetcar / Light Rail line is extended to uptown / Walnut Hills / up to Xavier than up to Kenwood, they will probably be up in arms about it, but hey, they had the chance to connect to rail and didn't want it to happen.  That is their perjogative.  If anything, Hyde Park property values would stay around the same while areas around it will increase dramatically with the rail lines.  This all assuming the move back to the city continues and jobs continue to open up in the city limits.

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The official response by the Wasson Way group is they are proposing the shared ROW that would preserve light rail lanes. Not sure they have that much say over it though, ultimately.

 

I really really really hope that groups like Believe in Cincy and others are doing some behind the scenes lobbying to make sure this isn't overlooked. I see Wasson way as a crucial component to the future of light rail in Cincinnati. It really doesn't get any better than the path it takes.

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The way I see it is that the Hyde Parkers don't want increased development and density in Hyde Park.  They want to keep the status quo, and Cranley will protect that since he is a Hyde Parker, ML guy himself.  It is good for Hyde Park to have a trail and this and that, so be it.

 

I have heard that argument before but never understood the logic behind it. Property values will increase substantially if they are within walking distance to a light rail station. That’s exactly why higher density development follows. If I’m a property owner, whether or not I want higher density development, I’m going to welcome the rising property value with open arms. If residents along Wasson really think their property is so high-end that the light rail will lower their property values, they’re mistaken. Hyde Park is a nice neighborhood, but it’s not exactly elite. 

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