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Cincinnati: I-71 Improvements / Uptown Access Project (MJK Interchange)

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They've also cleared some sort of path heading south from the area on the west side of the highway.

 

I've given up hope this will actually be a good project when I read the words "MLK will be widened by 12 feet." It's going to be an awful pedestrian experience for sure.

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Hmm, not sure honestly. Is the bridge possibly being widened more than the road once it crosses Reading heading west? I think that's the spot they were referencing when saying it'll increase by 12 feet. In addition to a landscaped median (yay?) and landscape buffers on the sidewalk (double yay?). I'd rather just see all those buffers go towards on street parking and reducing the ease of speeding through the area.

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It's been a while since I've seen any drawings or descriptions, but I believe they were adding a whole extra lane in each direction plus the shared use path on the south side (not sure if there's also a sidewalk on the north side as well).  It's still an abomination either way at something like 9 or 10 lanes wide. 

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This seems like it would be a great candidate for the new MLK interchange/re-imagined Reading Road area

 

http://m.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/07/01/multimillion-dollar-cincinnati-research-hq-of.html

 

Completely called it!!!

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2014/07/22/exclusive-uptown-consortium-buying-land-seeking.html


www.cincinnatiideas.com

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If they need to consolidate and update their facilities (they're in Linwood by Columbia Parkway AND Pleasant Ridge by the railroad tracks), better that they stay in the city to do it than go out to Mason.  What concerns me is what, if anything, could be done with the Linwood facility?  If it's labs and stuff that's getting obsolete for them, I have a hard time figuring out what else that building might be good for. 

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This NIOSH thing is a big deal.  They want to leave the City (simply because that's easier to find a bunch of land and build a new building.  The government isn't interested in subsidies obviously and the two spots they've previously considered are suburban.  Getting them up in Uptown would be huge.

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They started torching the crossbeams last weekend and had the right lane closed.  I'm assuming that they're going to remove everything over the southbound lanes this weekend.

 

Fun Fact: that stretch of I-71 opened in 1966 and that railroad bridge was only used until 1968.  It's been sitting completely unused, along with the rest of the CL&N overpasses, for 46 years. 

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Meanwhile on I-75, they are rebuilding the railroad overpass just south of the Norwood Lateral to allow for the wider highway. It's quite a mess on Cincinnati highways at the moment. For a state whose DOT is out of money, we sure are spending a lot of money on highway expansion. I can think of at least one major expansion project happening right now or very recently on every single Cincinnati-area highway.

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The only thing on ODOT's website I can find on this project is a little 1-pager.  Are more detailed plans floating around out there somewhere? 

 

FWIW, the I-75 Mill Creek website is pretty sparse on info as well.

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Not exactly related to the MLK interchange, but the recently finished auxiliary lane on southbound I-71 from Pfeiffer to Ronald Reagan has significantly changed traffic flow.  Pfeiffer always caused big backups in all directions because of the number of people who work in Blue Ash.  Previously, in the evening rush I-71 would be a parking lot from Pfeiffer north to I-275 or Fields-Ertel, and Pfeiffer itself would back up to Kenwood, but once you got past the merging traffic it would be smooth sailing from Reagan south to about Taft.  Now with the new lane, so many cars can flood onto I-71 south in the evening that the whole highway jams up from Reagan down to Red Bank or the Norwood Lateral.  If something as innocuous as an auxiliary lane can change things so much, it makes me wonder just how much the new MLK interchange will also affect I-71's dynamics.  The congested access roads seem to act as a relief valve, keeping the highway from becoming too clogged, sort of like self-imposed ramp metering.  It also shows how "eliminating bottlenecks" can really backfire. 

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Interesting observation.  I haven't been over there during rush hour in over five years, but you might in fact be right, since right now the traffic patterns on I-71 near Walnut Hills are complex and so chopped up.  With a full interchange traffic will be heading onto I-71 N and S almost continuously during afternoon rush hour.  Keeping the 71 N ramp from McMillan further complicates it since there will be more complex merging activity at the top of the hill than there would have been otherwise. 

 

The one feature that shouldn't cause a problem is the left-side exit to 3rd St. through the Lytle Tunnel.  There won't be much traffic originating at MLK that will go there, so there won't be many people crossing the entire interstate.  There still will be the left-side entrance from Eden Ave., however. 

 

Right now if you are downtown GPS tells you to take I-71 N from 2nd or 5th to the Eden Ave. exit if you're heading to the hospitals or to UC.  It's a longer distance but it is faster since you miss all of the stoplights in OTR.  With the MLK ramp we'll see the tiny amount of traffic that goes up and down the Reading Rd. hill diminish. 

 

 

 

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It also shows how "eliminating bottlenecks" can really backfire. 

 

I think O.D.O.T. has caught on to this effect, as on another project they intentionally did not eliminate a bottleneck on the county road at the ramp, fearing that the freeway would back up. I guess it's better to back up on a road that someone else maintains. It was probably a good decision, because crashes at high speeds are worse than crashes at lower speeds.

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As someone who commutes home to the basin and gets on S-71 at Pfeiffer I haven't noticed the backups you mention. The two things i've noticed is with the time change you can get some bad sun in your eyes around ridge that tends to back up traffic to red bank or you gave the people who attempt to observe the 45 mph speed limit at the lane shifts before Taft which can get interesting.

 

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As someone who commutes home to the basin and gets on S-71 at Pfeiffer I haven't noticed the backups you mention. The two things i've noticed is with the time change you can get some bad sun in your eyes around ridge that tends to back up traffic to red bank or you gave the people who attempt to observe the 45 mph speed limit at the lane shifts before Taft which can get interesting.

 

I have seen some huge backups I-71 south from Red Bank to through downtown the past 2 Fridays.  Why is there  no aux lane northbound from Cross county to Pfeiffer?

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As someone who commutes home to the basin and gets on S-71 at Pfeiffer I haven't noticed the backups you mention. The two things i've noticed is with the time change you can get some bad sun in your eyes around ridge that tends to back up traffic to red bank or you gave the people who attempt to observe the 45 mph speed limit at the lane shifts before Taft which can get interesting.

 

I have seen some huge backups I-71 south from Red Bank to through downtown the past 2 Fridays.  Why is there  no aux lane northbound from Cross county to Pfeiffer?

 

But at what time joetraveler?  I used to be in the clear if I left work by 4:30, and even after 5:00 I-71 southbound was always wide open south of Reagan.  Now I've been stuck in stop and go traffic going southbound at 4:00, and even today it was a complete parking lot from Pfeiffer all the way to Red Bank at 5:45.  The last few times I went all the way down Kenwood to hook up on Reagan to I-71 I was shocked to find I-71 a slow mess.  That's never been the case before.  Pfeiffer itself is generally quite a bit less backed up now sure, but so what? 

 

As for why there's no auxiliary lane northbound from Reagan, my guess is that it wouldn't really help much.  I think that Reagan to I-71 northbound traffic in the evening rush is getting caught up in the already existing jams, and it doesn't seem to back up much in the morning anyway, at least not because of Reagan.  The Pfeiffer ramp itself could use some more stack space, but another factor is that there's a lot more sound wall right up against the shoulder that would need to be moved, and there could be side-to-side clearance issues at the Cooper Avenue overpass as well.  For the new Pfeiffer auxiliary lane they had to tear out a bunch of the median jersey barrier under Zig Zag Road so they could shift the lanes east a bit and get about 3 or 4 feet of "shoulder" on each side, a total kludge but a cost saving measure.  It looks like the piers in the middle at Cooper are actually closer to the northbound lanes so it might just be too tight a squeeze. 

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Just thought of something -- one of the most complicated areas of I-71 is the Eden Park/Reading interchange.  It takes some really advanced knowledge to know that you take the right fork of a left-side exit to be able to turn left onto Dorchester.  That's the nonsense that will, with the exception of I-71N to Christ Hospital commuters, be eliminated when the MLK interchange happens.  Meanwhile the gymnastics necessary to illegally travel onto I-471S from Reading will be almost entirely a thing of the past.  I love jetting onto the ramp, staring down that gray "No Entry to I-471" sign, then proceeding to stick it to the man. 

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The loop ramp from Cross County to I-71 NB is an issue; there is always a merging delay in the PM rush. The merge lane is too short, and since that is a free flow ramp from Cross County EB, no metering takes place from a signal. The Cooper Road bridge shoulder piers are the issue there.

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As someone who commutes home to the basin and gets on S-71 at Pfeiffer I haven't noticed the backups you mention. The two things i've noticed is with the time change you can get some bad sun in your eyes around ridge that tends to back up traffic to red bank or you gave the people who attempt to observe the 45 mph speed limit at the lane shifts before Taft which can get interesting.

 

I have seen some huge backups I-71 south from Red Bank to through downtown the past 2 Fridays.  Why is there  no aux lane northbound from Cross county to Pfeiffer?

 

But at what time joetraveler?  I used to be in the clear if I left work by 4:30, and even after 5:00 I-71 southbound was always wide open south of Reagan.  Now I've been stuck in stop and go traffic going southbound at 4:00, and even today it was a complete parking lot from Pfeiffer all the way to Red Bank at 5:45.  The last few times I went all the way down Kenwood to hook up on Reagan to I-71 I was shocked to find I-71 a slow mess.  That's never been the case before.  Pfeiffer itself is generally quite a bit less backed up now sure, but so what? 

 

As for why there's no auxiliary lane northbound from Reagan, my guess is that it wouldn't really help much.  I think that Reagan to I-71 northbound traffic in the evening rush is getting caught up in the already existing jams, and it doesn't seem to back up much in the morning anyway, at least not because of Reagan.  The Pfeiffer ramp itself could use some more stack space, but another factor is that there's a lot more sound wall right up against the shoulder that would need to be moved, and there could be side-to-side clearance issues at the Cooper Avenue overpass as well.  For the new Pfeiffer auxiliary lane they had to tear out a bunch of the median jersey barrier under Zig Zag Road so they could shift the lanes east a bit and get about 3 or 4 feet of "shoulder" on each side, a total kludge but a cost saving measure.  It looks like the piers in the middle at Cooper are actually closer to the northbound lanes so it might just be too tight a squeeze. 

The same thing happened when I-71 was widened through to Kings Island. Pfeiffer Rd never back up both directions before then. The traffic on I-71 around Fields Ertel was horrible before the highway was widened. It just pushed all that volume to Pfeifer rd.  The entire stretch from down town to Kings Island should have been widen. The same problem with happen with the BSB. All that traffic will be pushed to I-275 at both ends of I-75.

 

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As someone who commutes home to the basin and gets on S-71 at Pfeiffer I haven't noticed the backups you mention. The two things i've noticed is with the time change you can get some bad sun in your eyes around ridge that tends to back up traffic to red bank or you gave the people who attempt to observe the 45 mph speed limit at the lane shifts before Taft which can get interesting.

 

I have seen some huge backups I-71 south from Red Bank to through downtown the past 2 Fridays.  Why is there  no aux lane northbound from Cross county to Pfeiffer?

 

But at what time joetraveler?  I used to be in the clear if I left work by 4:30, and even after 5:00 I-71 southbound was always wide open south of Reagan.  Now I've been stuck in stop and go traffic going southbound at 4:00, and even today it was a complete parking lot from Pfeiffer all the way to Red Bank at 5:45.  The last few times I went all the way down Kenwood to hook up on Reagan to I-71 I was shocked to find I-71 a slow mess.  That's never been the case before.  Pfeiffer itself is generally quite a bit less backed up now sure, but so what? 

 

As for why there's no auxiliary lane northbound from Reagan, my guess is that it wouldn't really help much.  I think that Reagan to I-71 northbound traffic in the evening rush is getting caught up in the already existing jams, and it doesn't seem to back up much in the morning anyway, at least not because of Reagan.  The Pfeiffer ramp itself could use some more stack space, but another factor is that there's a lot more sound wall right up against the shoulder that would need to be moved, and there could be side-to-side clearance issues at the Cooper Avenue overpass as well.  For the new Pfeiffer auxiliary lane they had to tear out a bunch of the median jersey barrier under Zig Zag Road so they could shift the lanes east a bit and get about 3 or 4 feet of "shoulder" on each side, a total kludge but a cost saving measure.  It looks like the piers in the middle at Cooper are actually closer to the northbound lanes so it might just be too tight a squeeze. 

The same thing happened when I-71 was widened through to Kings Island. Pfeiffer Rd never back up both directions before then. The traffic on I-71 around Fields Ertel was horrible before the highway was widened. It just pushed all that volume to Pfeifer rd.  The entire stretch from down town to Kings Island should have been widen. The same problem with happen with the BSB. All that traffic will be pushed to I-275 at both ends of I-75.

 

 

Except I'm not confident that the hill won't continue to be a choke point even though they are widening it to six lanes.  The geometry there is just too weird and there will still be a lot of confused lane changing. 

 

Again, I'm still pretty sure that building a relatively simple 2-lane HOV/Truck tolled bypass parallel to the Southern Railroad could achieve everything they ostensibly want to do so far as improving capacity.  Basically you would build a new road about seven miles long with a bridge smaller than the Taylor-Southgate that would charge a $5+ toll during ordinary conditions and then more during a full blockage of the Brent Spence bridge.  That way traffic would still advance on I-75 rather than come to a complete standstill as it does periodically today.   

 

 

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The area between I-71, Gilbert, MLK, and Victory Parkway has a ton of boarded up buildings, especially along I-71. Does anybody know if the boarded up buildings are being prepped for demolition as part of the MLK interchange?

 

There are a few boarded up buildings caught on Google Streetview from earlier this year, but there are many more boarded up now:

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The area between I-71, Gilbert, MLK, and Victory Parkway has a ton of boarded up buildings, especially along I-71. Does anybody know if the boarded up buildings are being prepped for demolition as part of the MLK interchange?

 

There are a few boarded up buildings caught on Google Streetview from earlier this year, but there are many more boarded up now:

 

I don't believe that those buildings are being torn down for the ramp project itself but rather the sites will be cleared for redevelopment.  I was at a city meeting in 2010 or 2011 where slides were shown illustrating the entire area rebuilt as something resembling Smith/Edwards. 

 

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Are they replacing another bridge? I see new support for another bridge that is not MLK.  If so why make a new one with so little traffic that uses it?

 

Yes, the Fredonia Ave. bridge.  When I-71 was built there was industrial activity related to the railroad going on in that shallow ravine, but most of it is gone. 

 

Not a peep from the media or the anti-3CDC about the many poor people displaced by this project. 

 

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Yeah it was abandoned two years after I-71 was finished in that area.  So if the interstate was under construction for two years then the bridges and retaining walls were used for just four years total.  The double-track bridge over Victory Parkway would have been re-used for light rail if Metro Moves had passed. 

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