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Cincinnati: Wasson Way Trail

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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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...whether or not I want higher density development, I’m going to welcome the rising property value with open arms...

 

Not if you want to stay there though.  People fear their property taxes going up due to increased value.  This is rather illogical though considering how transient most people are in the US, which means they're routinely "cashing out" their house as they move.  Still, the sentiment is all about not wanting anything to change. 

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^Also, keep in mind that modern light rail doesn't exist anywhere near Cincinnati, so many people have no idea what it's actually like.  The closest and best known major rail transit system is the L in Chicago; that thing is LOUD and something Hyde Park property owners wouldn't want running through their neighborhood, so some opposition will simply be based in ignorance of what is actually being proposed.  Hopefully that will subside once the streetcar is running and people start to see what 21st century trains are really like, but by then it may be too late.

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That part of town is already getting higher density development. Unfortunately, it's auto-oriented high-density development. Something like The Banks or USquare or The Gantry would be so much better for the community than the garbage currently being built at Hyde Park Plaza or Rookwood Commons/Pavilion/Exchange.

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Property tax rates are the same in Hyde Park as elsewhere in the city but the taxes they pay are higher than most areas because the land receives a higher valuation from Dusty.  That valuation might rise further if a transit line is built on the former freight railroad, but it also means a higher resale value and a higher rent should homeowners choose to rent out their homes. 

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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.)

 

Well, Cincinnati could always be the first.

 

While Cranley might have some desire to prevent light rail along this corridor, it seems to me that this is being pushed as simply a project that can be completed relatively easily and parked into talking points under his "Record" or "Accomplishments".  This 'Hyde Parkers fighting against rail' theory sounds pretty loopy internet conspiracy to me.

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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.)

 

Well, Cincinnati could always be the first.

 

While Cranley might have some desire to prevent light rail along this corridor, it seems to me that this is being pushed as simply a project that can be completed relatively easily and parked into talking points under his "Record" or "Accomplishments".  This 'Hyde Parkers fighting against rail' theory sounds pretty loopy internet conspiracy to me.

 

Most Cincinnatians have no familiarity with rail transportation. It is already hard enough to convince them of the benefits of light rail or streetcars. Now let's say you build a nice bike and walking trail for this neighborhood, and it's immediately loved...and then the years later, you say, "we're going to reduce the width of this bike trail so that we can add a light rail line along side it"...the reaction from the neighborhood is going to be "hell no".

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In the same sense there is no light rail plan on the table and at best there "could" be one in 10 years with a 30 year build out schedule.  Seems silly to do nothing while a great asset can be developed now.  If a successful light rail system is ever planned and developed the political capital and will neceessary to get it off the ground would make something like sorting out the wasson way issue fairly minor.

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In the same sense there is no light rail plan on the table and at best there "could" be one in 10 years with a 30 year build out schedule.  Seems silly to do nothing while a great asset can be developed now.  If a successful light rail system is ever planned and developed the political capital and will neceessary to get it off the ground would make something like sorting out the wasson way issue fairly minor.

 

Exactly.  The railroad tracks are an overgrown eyesore and there is no current plan to develop light rail in the area.  It certainly won't happen while lil'Napoleon is in office.  WW will be awesome.  I live a couple of blocks away and it can't be built soon enough. 

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The goal is not to let the Wasson Way sit there unused. The goal is to develop it as a bike and walking trail ASAP, but make it clear that this is a multimodal transportation corridor by zoning it as a Transportation Overlay District from the very beginning. If we skip this step, we may lose the ability to build rail there forever. Just because there isn't a plan for rail today doesn't mean that things won't change in the very near future -- perhaps 5 or 10 years from now. In 2050, we don't want to look back on this as a mistake we made in 2015 by rushing through the bike trail with no transit provision. We have already lost several other great rail transportation corridors through the city because we did not have the foresight in place to preserve them. Let's not make that mistake again with Wasson Way.

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Los Angeles County accelerated their 30-year plan by passing a temporary sales tax that enabled them to build the 30-year plan in 10 years.  They currently have several lines under construction simultaneously. 

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Does anyone know if there will be redbike terminals along WW?  Probably too early in the process to know for sure, but I would love to see redbike expand into the eastern part of the city. 

 

Question #2:  What is the plan for the trail crossing Madison and Edwards?  That is a busy/scary intersection.  It would be great if there was a bridge that would lift riders/walkers above the mess. 

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^ That's just it, is there any more of a plan than some lines on a map and an overbearingly precious rendering?  There's real in-the-ground challenges here that I don't see being addressed like those street crossings, Montgomery Road too, as well as the structural condition of the trestle over Red Bank, plus how exactly does this connect to the Little Miami Trail with the still active Clare Yard and a severed right-of-way behind the Mariemont Kroger?  The cycling proponents have also been very dismissive and condescending to the transit advocates, hand-waving away questions about right-of-way width, bridge clearances, and station locations, showing other examples of shared rights-of-way that are twice as wide with no terrain constraints to worry about.  It really does come across as a way to split the liberal constituencies of the city, effectively weakening both.  Sad because isn't Cranley supposed to be a Democrat? 

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Jeffrey we are in total agreement.  We are five years into this bike trail effort, and there is still no consensus as to how to deal with various trouble spots on the right-of-way, even before provisions for light rail are considered.  In fact there haven't even been many suggestions lobbed out there aside from the DAAP projects.  The fact is a certain individual made this all about him and that guy's unstoppable need to have his name all over this project has given the whole thing a weird vibe.  It's taken on a life irrespective of the facts of the situation.  I got some attitude years ago from people, as if I didn't know anything about this stuff.  I walked and photographed this line going-on 20 years ago, 15 years before any of them took any interest in it. 

 

 

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I hope they make provisions for future light rail on Wasson Way as well but consider the following scenario.  The I-71 light rail line is built connecting Downtown and Uptown with a Mt. Auburn tunnel.  Wasson Way is built as a trail and connects to the light rail line near Xavier.  Wasson Way would be funneling people from the whole east side to that station at Xavier. You could have Red Bike stations on Wasson Way with a big one at the light rail station, and a huge bike parking facility at the light rail station, or people could bring their bikes on the train if there was room. It would be awesome. 

 

This would probably be the order of things happening if light rail was built. 


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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The federal government will not be providing any money for Wasson Way

 

CINCINNATI (FOX19) -

The federal government passed on granting $20 million to a proposed 7.6 mile trail through Cincinnati’s East Side.

 

The Wasson Way bike and walking trail would transform an old railway into a mixed use greenway. The TIGER grant could have covered the majority of the project, Vice Mayor David Mann said earlier this year.

 

 

http://www.fox19.com/story/30385333/wasson-way-project-wont-receive-20-million-grant

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No word from Wasson Way's hyperactive social media today.  I was suspicious that some social media professional from out-of-town was running it for the past month, since it seemed like whoever was posting was unfamiliar with the details of the issue. 

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State grant will fund portion of Wasson Way

Plans for funding Wasson Way got a boost last week when the state of Ohio set aside a grant for a portion of the project, WLWT reports.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources approved a $500,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Trails fund to help pay for the construction of a 3,200-sqaure-foot section of the shared-use trail planned to stretch from Madsion Road to Dana Avenue.

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/morning_call/2015/11/state-grant-will-fund-portion-of-wasson-way.html

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I have no idea what "3,200-sqaure-foot (sic)" ... I think it's just one of the mistakes in the typo-ridden article. My guess is that this funding will cover the roughly ~3200 linear feet from Madison to the bridge that cross I-71.

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Gotta love those Thomas Kincaid-esque conceptual graphics.  There are going to be so many people on this thing it's going to be as annoying to ride a bike on it as it is to ride cross the Purple People Bridge.  You'll have people stopping to take selfies, dogs getting away from their handlers, kids erratically changing directions, etc. 

 

 

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It's all the decorative lamps, brick paving on all the adjacent streets, and meticulous landscaping that really irritate me about the renderings.  It's overly precious and blatantly manipulative.

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Gotta love those Thomas Kincaid-esque conceptual graphics.  There are going to be so many people on this thing it's going to be as annoying to ride a bike on it as it is to ride cross the Purple People Bridge.  You'll have people stopping to take selfies, dogs getting away from their handlers, kids erratically changing directions, etc. 

 

For a challenge try navigating the 606 / Bloomingdale trail next time your in Chicago, plenty of double sized strollers, toy dogs and little kids to make any cyclist rip their hair out ;)

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Gotta love those Thomas Kincaid-esque conceptual graphics.  There are going to be so many people on this thing it's going to be as annoying to ride a bike on it as it is to ride cross the Purple People Bridge.  You'll have people stopping to take selfies, dogs getting away from their handlers, kids erratically changing directions, etc. 

 

 

 

Jogging Strollers.

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Riding a road bike on the Loveland Trail on a busy day (weekend or holiday) is like navigating through an asteroid belt.  You can't get in any kind of groove anywhere between Newtown and Loveland, and usually for at least five miles north. 

 

A big problem was introduced with gps tracking apps a few years ago, since now road bikers are always trying to beat personal bests.  It's tough to go full speed (20mph+) for even a mile given all of the random not-road-bike traffic on the trail.  The road bikers get frustrated because the stuff going on on the trail really is that ridiculous. 

 

The Wasson Trail guys keep touting it as a link to the Little Miami Trail -- as if all these people that ride bikes 1-2 times per year are going to wake up one morning and ride from XU to Loveland and back.  Nobody except serious hobbyists do that, and many of those guys avoid the trail on the weekend. 

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It's all the decorative lamps, brick paving on all the adjacent streets, and meticulous landscaping that really irritate me about the renderings.  It's overly precious and blatantly manipulative.

 

That's how every drawing is, including all those for OTR, The Banks, Smale Park, etc. They obviously design them to look as good as possible.

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Maybe, but I can at least buy that they'd install decorative historic light fixtures in OTR or in any number of other city neighborhoods.  In this case though, it's really reaching, especially in the trenched area near Marburg and Erie.  They show EVERY side street paved with brick/pavers in contrasting patterns, including brick paved parking bays and curb bump-outs on Wasson itself.  That's so over-the-top it would probably cost more than the whole bike path alone.  It's just WAY too precious, like something you'd expect out of Deerfield Township or Carmel, Indiana.

 

 

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^ I don't believe that rendering is "official" in any way. One of the Wasson Way supporters took jmecklenborg[/member]'s aerial photo and put the trail on it in Photoshop. All of the details are made up, not based on what could actually be funded and built.

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Maybe, but I can at least buy that they'd install decorative historic light fixtures in OTR or in any number of other city neighborhoods.  In this case though, it's really reaching, especially in the trenched area near Marburg and Erie.  They show EVERY side street paved with brick/pavers in contrasting patterns, including brick paved parking bays and curb bump-outs on Wasson itself.  That's so over-the-top it would probably cost more than the whole bike path alone.  It's just WAY too precious, like something you'd expect out of Deerfield Township or Carmel, Indiana.

 

 

Where's my light rail track?

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