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Cincinnati: Wasson Way Trail

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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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^ 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.

 

To clarify, he didn't "take" that photo from me.  He emailed me and I sent him about fifteen photos back in 2013 or early 2014.  And to clarify further, the rendering that I found ridiculous wasn't his overhead one but rather the "sunset" one with all of the mixed traffic on the trail.

 

I agree that depictions of a 5+ mile trail paved in anything other than typical asphalt are unrealistic.  We are actually quite spoiled in this area because very long paved rec trails like the Little Miami are very rare.  In fact ours might be the longest one in the country.  Most are 15-25 miles long, but ours is I believe the only one that approaches 100 miles in length.  There are, by comparison, many rails-to-trails that are longer but are crushed gravel.  Pennsylvania, Missouri, and I think Nebraska each have trails that are 200-300 miles long. 

 

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When I think of the Wasson Way Trail especially in the Hyde Park area, I think of Indianapolis and their Monon Trail which I believe was rails to trails.

 

There is quite a lot of restaurants, etc. along the trail that were once houses and all seem fairly busy.  But the area where all the redevelopmen is runs about 1 mile at most then it just runs behind houses.  Also, I am not certain of Indy incentized home apartment and condo building along the trail, but there is definitely a lot of mid density development within close range of the trail.  I wonder if Hyde Park would be for upzoning those plots along the trail for mid density apartments or condos and if that would ever happen?

 

On the Monon Trail at least, it gets really busy within a 3 mile range or maybe less of Broad Ripple, but then drops off really fast.

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We are actually quite spoiled in this area because very long paved rec trails like the Little Miami are very rare.  In fact ours might be the longest one in the country.  Most are 15-25 miles long, but ours is I believe the only one that approaches 100 miles in length.  There are, by comparison, many rails-to-trails that are longer but are crushed gravel.  Pennsylvania, Missouri, and I think Nebraska each have trails that are 200-300 miles long.

 

Slightly off-topic, but the Dayton/Miami Valley region boasts the largest paved bike trail network in the country, with over 300 miles of trails. It would be exciting to have a bike trail network webbing through all the populated areas of the state. Links like Wasson (and the Kettering Connector in Dayton/Kettering) are critical for making the network viable for utility (trips to the store, commuting, etc.) versus merely recreational trails people drive to for fun and exercise.

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When I think of the Wasson Way Trail especially in the Hyde Park area, I think of Indianapolis and their Monon Trail which I believe was rails to trails.

 

There is quite a lot of restaurants, etc. along the trail that were once houses and all seem fairly busy.  But the area where all the redevelopmen is runs about 1 mile at most then it just runs behind houses.  Also, I am not certain of Indy incentized home apartment and condo building along the trail, but there is definitely a lot of mid density development within close range of the trail.  I wonder if Hyde Park would be for upzoning those plots along the trail for mid density apartments or condos and if that would ever happen?

 

On the Monon Trail at least, it gets really busy within a 3 mile range or maybe less of Broad Ripple, but then drops off really fast.

 

I seriously doubt that Hyde Park would approve any significant up-zoning along the route, which diminishes the potential upside of both the bike trail and future light rail. The best prospects for upzoning are near Xavier around the Montgomery Rd crossing.

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That's what I figured.  They are fighting "commercial creep" in at least one instance where an owner wants to turn over a house to an office.  But it could work well close to Montgomery Road. 

 

I just wonder though what the big justification is for it if it will only be used as recreation?

 

Edit: Is the justification used by Hyde Park residents for building it recreation?

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I don't know.  I just don't see room for two sets of light rail tracks plus a bike path plus a pedestrian path in that Wasson Road photo/rendering above.  And all the street crossings makes me think rail should be underground for this portion (not a subway with stations but just a tunnel through this portion.) It'd be great if they could dig it up and place a concrete tunnel for future use before they build out the bike trail but I don't see them having the funds or political will to do something like that. Given that it may be 20-30 years before we even get light rail as far as Xavier (including building a Mt. Auburn Tunnel) I wonder how much effort it's worth to fight the "must include rail" battle in the present. Even having a walk/bike trail like this connect to a light rail station at Xavier would be a huge asset. (Any Trail ROW west of I-71 would absolutely have to be preserved for light rail however for light rail to make it to Xavier.)

 

I would support spending a few extra million to protect for light rail, but I wouldn't want to kill off plans entirely for a trail that didn't include light rail protection.


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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I would support spending a few extra million to protect for light rail, but I wouldn't want to kill off plans entirely for a trail that didn't include light rail protection.

 

Someway, somehow, Cranley will force you to make that choice.

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^Exactly.  I love the idea of a bike trail, but for me Wasson Way is a non-starter if it eliminates one of the few remaining ROWs in the city for light rail. 

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I don't know.  I just don't see room for two sets of light rail tracks plus a bike path plus a pedestrian path in that Wasson Road photo/rendering above.  And all the street crossings makes me think rail should be underground for this portion (not a subway with stations but just a tunnel through this portion.) It'd be great if they could dig it up and place a concrete tunnel for future use before they build out the bike trail but I don't see them having the funds or political will to do something like that. Given that it may be 20-30 years before we even get light rail as far as Xavier (including building a Mt. Auburn Tunnel) I wonder how much effort it's worth to fight the "must include rail" battle in the present. Even having a walk/bike trail like this connect to a light rail station at Xavier would be a huge asset. (Any Trail ROW west of I-71 would absolutely have to be preserved for light rail however for light rail to make it to Xavier.)

 

I would support spending a few extra million to protect for light rail, but I wouldn't want to kill off plans entirely for a trail that didn't include light rail protection.

 

Tunnel construction would be relatively inexpensive in the rail ROW since there wouldn't be any utilities, except at cross-streets.  The best way to do this, if the trail is to be done first, is to do a crushed gravel trail with minimal lighting and other improvements. 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sugarhouse line in Salt Lake City has only one line of tracks, except for at a few stations where there are two sets of tracks. How difficult is it to coordinate inbound/outbound schedules to make that work? I'm just curious if a single set of tracks would work for Wasson Way, or if two sets of tracks would be necessary.

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It would be relatively easy to go down to a single track for that stretch and then back to double-track where the ROW becomes wider. Similar to the short single-tracked section of the Portland Streetcar that connected the Downtown/Pearl District and South Waterfront loops. They recently double-tracked it because of the additional traffic from the new routes.

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If Hyde Park is near the end of the line, then single-track should be fine.  I don't see it penetrating much farther than Marburg or Erie as light rail.  The trail proponents like to say "just put the tracks on the street" but Wasson is already kind of a cluster f*** at its intersections with Edwards and Paxton so I find that to be untenable.  Either way, for light rail and the trail to coexist you probably couldn't have a stop between Edwards and Paxton anyway, because the stops take up that much more room, even if they are single-track, more so if they're double.  The only really feasible stop locations are immediately east of Paxton where Wasson moves about 50' north of the tracks, and west of Madison behind LaRosa's and Mulligan's/Pig & Whistle which would need to have its rear demolished most likely.  I don't think you could squeeze anything in between there, nor would you necessarily want to make the stop spacing more frequent since the trail itself would be a good route to walk or bike along the right-of-way to get to the stops. 

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EXCLUSIVE: Cincinnati identifies a new source to fund Wasson Way

 

The city of Cincinnati is looking for other ways to fund the Wasson Way bike trail, and it has zeroed in on the state of Ohio as a potential source of money.

 

Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black sent a letter to the Cincinnati Business Committee asking it to ask the state for funding for the trail through Ohio’s capital budget.

 

“The trail utilizes an existing, unused rail corridor and, when completed, will connect eight Cincinnati neighborhoods and the communities of Norwood, Mariemont and Fairfax and 83,000 people living within 1 mile of the trail,” the letter said. “It will provide alternative access to five major development sites, including sites at Xavier University and near Uptown, and will help make our community more attractive to families and to the talented skilled workforce that will propel the economy of the region.”

 

Cont


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

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“The trail utilizes an existing, unused rail corridor and, when completed, will connect eight Cincinnati neighborhoods and the communities of Norwood, Mariemont and Fairfax and 83,000 people living within 1 mile of the trail,” the letter said. “It will provide alternative access to five major development sites, including sites at Xavier University and near Uptown, and will help make our community more attractive to families and to the talented skilled workforce that will propel the economy of the region.”

 

 

In a city with forward-thinking leadership, this exact sentence would be used to argue for light rail.

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Wasson Way in line for $1.1M in state funding

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati is in line to get more than $1 million in state funding for construction on a second phase of the Wasson Way bike trail, even as questions remain on how, exactly, the city will pay to buy an old rail corridor for the project.

 

If lawmakers in Columbus approve the $1.1 million in state capital funding, it would go toward a stretch of trail between Montgomery Road and Tamarack Avenue, near Interstate 71 in the Evanston neighborhood. Total construction for that portion is estimated at between $1,260,000 and $2,135,000.

 

The $1.1 million is roughly a quarter of the $4.5 million the city wanted from the state.

 

http://www.wcpo.com/news/political/ohio-state-government-news/wasson-way-in-line-for-11m-in-state-funding

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Cincinnati City Council approved terms of a deal last summer to purchase the corridor from Norfolk Southern for $11.57 million. That agreement is set to expire in July, but the city could opt to pay a nearly $590,000 fee to extend the closing to July 2017.

 

This serious???????????

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Nothing is simple and straightforward when you're dealing with John Cranley.  There's always some catch, always some back-door way he's got to punish you for being well-mannered and sensible. 

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