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Cincinnati: Brent Spence Bridge

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Covington would be better off allowing the Fifth Street ramp to be removed and having all highway access via 12th Street. Both Forth and Fifth streets could be converted back to two-way and could become livable streets instead of the car sewers that they are today. Over time, the fast food drive-thrus and gas stations in that area can be replaced by new mixed-used structures, similar to what is being built on the parking lots next to Braxton and near Mainstrasse. (@Gordon Bombay recently pointed out that there are two completely separate Speedway gas stations on the same block in that area, with one serving eastbound traffic on Fifth and the other serving westbound traffic on Fourth.) Basically, let all of Covington north of of 12th redevelop in a pedestrian-, bike-, and transit-oriented way.

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23 minutes ago, jjakucyk said:

There's no connection issues between downtown Cincinnati and downtown Covington (or Newport).  Direct highway access to downtown Covington is perhaps another factor, but unless evidence is provided to the contrary, the simplification of ramps and exits that came with Ft. Washington Way and the push to eliminate the 5th Street/KY-8 exit in Covington is little more than typical traffic engineering practice of eliminating closely-spaced exits, partial interchanges, incomplete movements, weaving, and confusing lane adds/drops.  You could just as easily make the argument that there's a conspiracy to hobble Jack Casino because there's no direct way to get there from I-75 northbound (you either have to get off at 2nd Street by Paul Brown Stadium and then traverse the entirety of downtown, or go all the way up to the I-71 and Reading/Florence exit and turn around).  It's simply a matter of difficult terrain, tight geometries, and too much other stuff going on to make yet another ramp/exit feasible. 

 

Exactly. And along those lines, Downtown Cincinnati has way too many access points to the interstates. Many of our streets act as de facto ramps. We might have more connections to interstates per square mile than any other downtown in the country and what good has it done for us? If we were smart we'd get rid of Fort Washington Way completely. I-71 can be routed onto existing I-471 and I-275 to meet back up with I-75 in Florence. You don't need 7th, 5th, and 2nd Street exits on I-75 southbound. That's a clusterf**k. The Gilbert Avenue viaduct can be eliminated. On I-471/71 North you don't need Central Parkway, 6th, and 3rd Street exits. Eliminating all this useless infrastructure would return so much land to downtown to be developed and put to good use. It would also make us all so much safer. 

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15 minutes ago, taestell said:

 (@Gordon Bombay recently pointed out that there are two completely separate Speedway gas stations on the same block in that area, with one serving eastbound traffic on Fifth and the other serving westbound traffic on Fourth.)

 

This is all I have talked about on Twitter and Reddit the past two days. 

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27 minutes ago, DEPACincy said:

Exactly. And along those lines, Downtown Cincinnati has way too many access points to the interstates. Many of our streets act as de facto ramps. We might have more connections to interstates per square mile than any other downtown in the country and what good has it done for us? If we were smart we'd get rid of Fort Washington Way completely. I-71 can be routed onto existing I-471 and I-275 to meet back up with I-75 in Florence. You don't need 7th, 5th, and 2nd Street exits on I-75 southbound. That's a clusterf**k. The Gilbert Avenue viaduct can be eliminated. On I-471/71 North you don't need Central Parkway, 6th, and 3rd Street exits. Eliminating all this useless infrastructure would return so much land to downtown to be developed and put to good use. It would also make us all so much safer. 

 

I think a good first step would be to eliminate the ramp from Fourth Street to I-75 North. That would allow Fourth Street to be converted back to two-way since it would no longer connect to any highway ramps at either end. The stub ramp on Third Street could be activated so access to I-75 North would be maintained. Actually, the previous Cincinnati DOTE director that told me this was something he wanted to do. Unfortunately, in the latest plans for the BSB, this doesn't happen; the Fourth Street ramp remains and the Third Street stub is not used.

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The thing to be careful about when eliminating ramps is what the DOT does to the ones that remain.  I can see closing 5th Street leading to pressure to widen Pike and finish the MLK disaster. On the Ohio side, ODOT went crazy with that MLK interchange where we now have 10-lane surface streets for really no good reason.  Hopple is the classic example, they just had to inject so much more capacity to compensate for the loss of the Bates and Central Parkway ramps, I guess.  

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3 hours ago, Cincy513 said:

And Covington north of 12th could not be more connected to downtown.  The suspension bridge connects them directly and is very easy to use.  It takes maybe 5 minutes from getting off 71 at 3rd St until you're on the bridge driving across to Covington.  Then you also have the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge and the Brent Spence.  There is absolutely no need for a Race to Madison bridge to be built when there are already three bridges anyone can use.  

 

TANK can't use the bridge.  Trucks can't use the bridge.  The streetcar can't use the bridge.  The bridge is periodically closed for exotic repairs such as the recent DUI crash that shut it down for 2-3 weeks.   

 

The benefits of a new bridge are many:

  • direct TANK service from the NKY transit center to DT Cincinnati
  • direct connection for delivery trucks 
  • direct traffic flow to Covington's traditional downtown strip 
  • revert Greenup and Scott to 2-way
  • reestablish Court St. connection and sell land where Scott and Greenup ramps now sit for development
  • opportunity to create transit lanes on bridge for TANK and streetcars

 

Also, the price of new 2-lane bridges over the Ohio River are amazingly low.  Like, way, way under $100 million, or even less than $50 million.  The U.S. Grant Bridge in Portsmouth only cost $26 million.  We could throw up 3 or 4 new 2-lane bridges for less than 1/10th the cost of the Brent Spence Bridge. 

 

One at Race/Madison, one between KY 8 and Gest St., one near the Anderson Ferry, one between Bellevue, KY and Columbia Parkway. 

 

 

 

portsmouthbridge.thumb.jpg.e0c4d2a5ec96699a9a9dc8f0b0fd9f46.jpg

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7 hours ago, DEPACincy said:

 

Let me start by saying I have immense respect for your opinions on a number of topics, but you're way too conspiratorial. There is no big conspiracy to keep people from accessing Covington. Covington access isn't even on the minds of folks planning the bridge replacement. It's ALL about capacity. The Fort Washington Way access consolidation was about safety, first and foremost. It had nothing to do with keeping people from crossing the suspension bridge. I know these for a fact, so you can put aside these conspiracy theories. They're not helpful or accurate. 

 

In a perfect world, Fort Washington Way would've been removed completely and the BSB replacement would be moved farther west. Funny enough, in that scenario, Covington access would take a huge hit. So if decision-makers really had that goal they'd be pursuing these ideas. But they're not. They're all about status quo and old ideas. Nothing radical, nothing that rocks the boat. 

 

 

I have the sense that the old-money Cincinnati decision-makers wield little power regrading these types of decisions made at the state and federal level. Columbus ones have a little more state-wise, but even then Wexner had to foot a large portion of the bill for the Easton interchange himself. Locally though, the Cincinnati aristocracy does have a large shadowy influence on what goes on with city money. Now in Kentucky and West Virginia...

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4 hours ago, GCrites80s said:

 

 

I have the sense that the old-money Cincinnati decision-makers wield little power regrading these types of decisions made at the state and federal level.

 

They have all of the power, except when an outlier somehow gets in power locally, like Mallory in 2005 or the 2011 wave that briefly brought a progressive majority to Cincinnati city council thanks to the Senate Bill 5 tea party debacle.  But those are brief bends and they always win in the end, like in 1984.  Of course Cranley is a monster, but he's their monster. 

 

The 2011 TRAC meeting was a spectacular display of blue blood power.  The Cincinnati Streetcar phase 1b funding was sent 200 miles north to a pair of freight rail grade separation projects that weren't anywhere on the ODOT list prior to Kasich.  Poof, spent.  On no-name areas of the state, not the #2 employment area of its largest metropolitan area.   The hope was that the streetcar phase 1a would disappear, but it actually got built, despite Cranley's reckless efforts to stop it.  

 

Here is an idea I had a long time ago -- a 2-level bridge at Race-Madison.  The lower level would be for general traffic.  The upper level would be for TANK and the streetcar.  The buses and streetcar would approach the bridge on a mostly-level viaduct from 4th St. and would cross above Race St. between 3rd and the bridge on a viaduct. 

 

On the Covington side, a viaduct would carry TANK buses to the second level of the big Kenton County parking garage, where they would travel down a ramp to the existing transit center on the first level.  Streetcars would continue on a viaduct that continues south to 5th St., then west to the C&O tracks, where it turns south and parallels the freight tracks in a manner similar to that studied by OKI in 1998.  Elevated stations at the transit center, then somewhere south of the IRS property. 

 

In a way, this recreates the grade separation that existed when Dixie Terminal was in operation, but moves the terminal to the south side of the river.  I wish I was a big-time engineer because I'd know if a 2-level bridge of this kind is cheaper to build that a wider 1-level bridge or even two side-by-side bridges. 

 

race-madison_bridge.jpg.236cc1be0012a0c2255e90893799d7e2.jpg

 

 

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7 hours ago, jmecklenborg said:

 

In a way, this recreates the grade separation that existed when Dixie Terminal was in operation, but moves the terminal to the south side of the river.  I wish I was a big-time engineer because I'd know if a 2-level bridge of this kind is cheaper to build that a wider 1-level bridge or even two side-by-side bridges. 

 

 

What would the point of bus separation be? Based on the Clay Wade Bailey, the Suspension Bridge, and the Taylor-Southgate bridge volumes there is no way that any new bridge would warrant the extra expense of bus separation. Volumes will be so low that traffic will be free-flow for at least 23 hours of the day and probably all 24. There is no need for a new bridge, but there is especially no need for a new double decker bridge. 

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12 minutes ago, oakiehigh said:

While bus separation may be a stretch, planning any new bridge spans in the region without light rail/streetcar separation would be extremely short sighted.

 

The Taylor-Southgate and Clay Wade Bailey bridges each have excess capacity. You can just run a grade separated light rail line right down the middle of both of them. No need for a new bridge. 

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1 hour ago, jjakucyk said:

^ That's not what grade-separated means.

 

Technically correct. I meant dedicated lanes, but I think you knew that. The point is that existing bridges can be used for light rail separated from automobile traffic. 

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3 hours ago, DEPACincy said:

 

The Taylor-Southgate and Clay Wade Bailey bridges each have excess capacity. You can just run a grade separated light rail line right down the middle of both of them. No need for a new bridge. 

 

No, neither of those bridges are anything close to direct and each have technical problems.   

 

Running tracks down Broadway to get to Newport would be a mistake -- plus at-grade tracks at the base of the Taylor-Southgate bridge could not work because of a grade crossing with future freight/commuter rail tracks for the Transit Center.  The uprights across the north side of the Taylor-Southgate preclude construction of a ramp from the center lanes carrying tracks up and over Fort Washington Way.  The T-S bridge was designed and built well before FWW as it exists was conceived or built.  The long box girder near the bridge was an expensive add-on to the project that enabled a direct 4-way intersection with Broadway at Pete Rose Way. 

 

Clay Wade Baily is only wide enough for one protected lane for transit.  Creating a single-track segment in the heart of a network is a big mistake.  In 1998 a new double track light rail bridge was conceived just east of the Clay Wade Baily. 

 

As has been already illustrated, a modest bridge over the Ohio River is not very expensive.  If expense isn't keeping one from being built, what is? 

 

 

 

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I just got a different tunnel idea.  Have I-71/75 separate in Covington and have I-75 remain on the bridge but I-71 moved to a tunnel.  This would enable a simplification of the current interchange in Cincinnati. 

 

The following could happen:

  • Fort Washington Way trench continues 1-2 blocks west before center lanes travel into a 2x2 lane tunnel. 
  • Central Ave. and Plum St. each made to travel OVER Ft. Washington Way
  • FWW to I-75N connection can travel below a restored 4th and 5th St.
  • I-75S to FWW connection similarly moves below restored 4th and 5th St.
  • Possible restoration of John St. between 3rd St. and Court St. 
  • convention center expanded west to John St.

 

The tunnel would be a 2x2 lane tunnel similar to the Bertha tunnel that will soon open in Seattle.  It would be about 7,000 feet long, so a bit shorter than that tunnel, if the south portals are just north of 12th St. in Covington.

 

This situation would enable the I-75 5th St. ramps to remain as they are.  2 lanes would divert around 12th St. to travel to Fort Washington Way, and an on ramp from 12th St. would merge with these lanes. 

 

I-71 south would similarly have 2 thru lanes travel south under the river and continue to the hill, but 5th St. would be ignored and a ramp would exit at 12th. 

 

 

 

 

 

brentpsence.jpg

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