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Cincinnati: Downtown: Fort Washington Way Cap Project

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^ All good ideas. Unfortunately, I don't know how you would take lanes from the easternmost block of 2nd, as they all line up with a very expensive ramp going somewhere else.

 

...Well, I know how I'd take care of it, but they took away my bulldozer.  :(

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Actually scratch that, you could take the whole south curb lane off 2nd. It would become right-only at elm and we don't need a double-ramp to Pete Rose Way at Main, now that you can circulate down to Mehring from Main.

 

That's a ridiculously wide lane, too, which could go a long way to taming 2nd, at least a little.

 

...or is that where they would put rail?

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The "I-71 light rail line" was going to exit the Mt. Auburn Tunnel near Rothenburg School, travel split between Walnut and Main south through OTR and Downtown, then turn west on 2nd and 3rd, then turn south and cross the river on a bridge immediately west of the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.  Presumably the track on 3rd St. would travel under the FWW ramps near John St., paralleling the CWBB approach, and cross the CWBB-2nd St. connector at grade.  In Covington the alignment was never resolved because they didn't know if the tracks would parallel the C&O on the east or west side, or somehow travel west into the fast food district before turning south to follow I-71/75 to Florence.   

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There was talk of capping I-75 at Ezzard Charles to help reconnect the Museum Center to the rest of the West End.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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That doesn't seem like a worthwhile project unless Ezzard Charles were magically lined with commercial properties and transformed into one of the city's most active streets.  It is, after all, an artificial street in the street grid, plowed through row houses back in 1933 and then surrounded by low-rise public housing by the end of the decade.  It never had a streetcar line, and I don't think that a new one to the museum center should be any kind of priority.   

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Yeah it was part of the whole "Revive I-75" plan. They had a restored park for Union Terminal and mixed commercial buildings all around. The caps would have extended the park. Obviously this has no chance of being implemented with the current funding setback. I wonder if the city is moving on the FWW caps though or is that still on hold?


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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They are ripping out the vegetation from the Walnut St. planters. Anyone know the details why? Bridge maintenance?


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

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Seriously though, when are these caps going in? 

 

Do you have the money?

 

Not in the next decade, unless the city and county find a lot of extra cash sitting around.

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Seriously though, when are these caps going in? 

 

Do you have the money?

 

Not in the next decade, unless the city and county find a lot of extra cash sitting around.

 

The city or county will never say they have any extra money sittiing around and have never had enough to to any project according to them.  So with that type of thought process we might as well say we will never do any other projects.  They said they were going to do it, so they had to have some idea as to when they thought this could be accomplished.  The whole idea of the banks project was to connect the riverfront with downtown.  This is a vital part of that connection.

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They talked about earmarking some of the casino money for FWW caps. Actually, there was a non-binding motion passed for doing just that.

 

IMO this absolutely needs to be done. It's not incredibly urgent, but those holes really stink up the walkability of the southern end of Downtown. Especially when combined with the way-overly-wide streets adjacent to them (2nd and 3rd). Putting on the caps creates a perfect opportunity for simultaneously narrowing these streets.

 

The Banks will never reach its full potential, or have its full impact/synergy with Downtown, until these gaps are properly taken care of.

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The expressway and the totality of spaghetti junction on both sides of downtown monopolizes over 1.5 square miles of the city's core.  A residential base west of downtown is critical to any vibrancy that could be created with mixed use projects west of Race.  That area could again be stiched with Italianate homes and 4-6 story commercial structures.  With their plans to form a neighborhood around Union Terminal, the City has shown me that they're motivated to re-integrate the West End back into Cincinnati's society.  Acknowledging that, FWW isn't the only thing that needs to be buried.  I-75 and 71 need it too.

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^ Agreed. Burying all that junk should be a far greater priority than extra lanes and a new bridge. Unfortunately, I think we are pretty far away from that becoming a reality. The caps, on the other hand, could reasonably happen in the next five years. (e.g. If council views them as a priority and casino revenue starts rolling in.)

 

Might take 5 more years after the caps are in place for someone to build on them. Would probably depend on what's going on with retail at the Banks. Could be a third phase of the Banks on the caps.

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^^ Agree with both City Blights and natininja, but our backward time-warp and its accompanying reality here hamstring us all.  Just how long has it been now since the FWW cap supports were built, but never incorporated and just how long will we wait for the massive turnaround that the West End so badly needs?  Meanwhile, I'm taking closer looks at what Seattle is doing and Columbus has done with capping and taming their own "spaghetti monsters."

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The expressway and the totality of spaghetti junction on both sides of downtown monopolizes over 1.5 square miles of the city's core.  A residential base west of downtown is critical to any vibrancy that could be created with mixed use projects west of Race.  That area could again be stiched with Italianate homes and 4-6 story commercial structures.  With their plans to form a neighborhood around Union Terminal, the City has shown me that they're motivated to re-integrate the West End back into Cincinnati's society.  Acknowledging that, FWW isn't the only thing that needs to be buried.  I-75 and 71 need it too.

 

This rendering shows that downtown will gain a little greenspace on the western edge when the interchanges are redone for the new bridge.  Perhaps down the road when the original Brent Spence Bridge is removed or replaced, we can trim it down a little more.

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v366/grasscat/Imageshack/120330BSB03.jpg

 

I think jmecklenborg threw out the idea of putting the reconstructed I-75 in a trench from the river to I-275 that could be capped section by section over time. Won't happen, but cool idea.

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No I don't think I suggested something that gradiose.  I really don't think that burying I-75 is a practical idea, or that we should think that capping it near Ezzard Charles Drive will lead to a rebirth of the area around Union Terminal.

 

Also, one issue that I don't think anyone has raised is that if buildings are built on the caps but are only 1 story tall, the roofs will be visible while walking down any of the north-south streets from 4th down to 3rd.  So the design needs to effectively hide air conditioners and anything else that could be visible from 4th.

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No I don't think I suggested something that gradiose.  I really don't think that burying I-75 is a practical idea, or that we should think that capping it near Ezzard Charles Drive will lead to a rebirth of the area around Union Terminal.

 

Also, one issue that I don't think anyone has raised is that if buildings are built on the caps but are only 1 story tall, the roofs will be visible while walking down any of the north-south streets from 4th down to 3rd.  So the design needs to effectively hide air conditioners and anything else that could be visible from 4th.

 

Well I think that the entire area around the CBD & OTR needs to be capped. 75 & 71 are just barriers to the area. I think it can be done and it wouldnt take a miracle. What it would take is cooperation.

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No I don't think I suggested something that gradiose.  I really don't think that burying I-75 is a practical idea, or that we should think that capping it near Ezzard Charles Drive will lead to a rebirth of the area around Union Terminal.

 

Also, one issue that I don't think anyone has raised is that if buildings are built on the caps but are only 1 story tall, the roofs will be visible while walking down any of the north-south streets from 4th down to 3rd.  So the design needs to effectively hide air conditioners and anything else that could be visible from 4th.

 

Capping the expressways is about increasing the amount of available land in the basin and utilizing it in far more profitable and appropriate means for its proximity to regional assets and scenic backdrop.  Rebirth is multi-faceted by definition, that's why City West doesn't meet it's stated goals.  Cincinnati has to be put back together piece by piece, and capping 75 downtown affords many positive possibilities for the core.

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They are ripping out the vegetation from the Walnut St. planters.

They've now moved to Vine St.


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

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They are ripping out the vegetation from the Walnut St. planters.

They've now moved to Vine St.

 

Why in the world would they wait until Opening Day, a summer full of visitors to The Banks and the WCG to rip up those planters if nothing was imminent? They weren't lush gardens or anything, but they were certainly better than empty pits. It would seem a horribly ill-timed decision to perform regular maintenance on those bridges now.

 

Maybe this is streetcar-related?

 

And while they're at it, the warped sidewalk along Second Street and the empty tree planters could certainly stand to be addressed.

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Downtowns can only be downtowns if they are constricted.  In the late 1800s corporations worked to keep downtown centers from moving (this first happened in NYC when Penn Station and especially Grand Central drew business to Midtown, away from Downtown).  The first tool coorporations used to constrict the size of downtowns was height limits, but the construction of expressways allowed property owners to more rigidly define the borders of a "downtown".  That's why local corporations were nervous about The Banks and made sure it only had enough parking to support mid-sized development.  So if it were technically feasible to cap Cincinnati's other downtown expressways -- which it isn't -- those proposals would be fought vigorously behind the scenes.   

 

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Isn't the part of 71 that needs to be capped already capped with the tunnel?  Or is the suggestion to cap 71 from, say, P & G all the way to Mt. Adams?

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Downtowns can only be downtowns if they are constricted.  In the late 1800s corporations worked to keep downtown centers from moving (this first happened in NYC when Penn Station and especially Grand Central drew business to Midtown, away from Downtown).  The first tool coorporations used to constrict the size of downtowns was height limits, but the construction of expressways allowed property owners to more rigidly define the borders of a "downtown".  That's why local corporations were nervous about The Banks and made sure it only had enough parking to support mid-sized development.  So if it were technically feasible to cap Cincinnati's other downtown expressways -- which it isn't -- those proposals would be fought vigorously behind the scenes.   

 

 

Corporations fighting for their pocketbooks behind the scenes is nothing new.  Cincinnati's own Carl Linder was a flagrant offender in that category.  It's not realistic to cap I-71 because it's not the priority that I-75 is, but capping the latter is certainly feasible as an engineering feat and as a financial possibility.  Expressways aren't critical to constricting Cincinnati's downtown, the basin already does that.

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No -- "Downtown" as understood by the big-time developers means sites for skyscrapers or other major buildings.  Downtown Cincinnati pretty much means from 3rd to 7th between Race and Broadway.  The "civic mall" proposed for Central Parkway back in 1925 was a way to keep Central Parkway from poaching downtown.  They're still doing it by placing the SCPA school there recently (the whole "proximity to Music Hall" bit was a pile).  The Aronoff and CAC were placed downtown in part to eliminate competing skyscraper sites.  So the big money uses the arts as a way to do their real estate dirty work. 

 

 

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Jake- not to be a contrarian/stickler and I appreciate your point of view and expertise in many areas--- but "downtown" is used by many to refer to between 4 and 6 Cincinnati neighborhoods. (Riverfront, Queensgate, OTR, West End and Pendelton & The Banks - if you count them despite being very small and under-development respectively.) ie Where is Union Terminal...ah its "downtown."

 

CBD I think what you mean and is referred to as such by developers.

As for the placement of SCPA I had not seen it as a way of using CPkwy to corral larger buildings/money.  I thought that idea had long since died off.  I saw its development along with the streetcar line adjacent as a way of enticing development up to the large empty lots along CPkwy. 

 

Development along CPkwy (corporate, residential, and street commercial) would have a similar effect to the capping of Ft Washington Way.  FFWay is wider and more extreme but it is surprising to have the Riverfront neighborhood so incredibly separated from the rest of the city neighborhoods.  Both cases are cases of abrupt breaks in urban context and both could use "capping" either physically or zoning/investment wise.

 

Cincinnati should strive for the blurring of the lines between its CBD and its supporting neighborhoods, it will make both healthier.  The city basin is constrained enough it will likely not "bleed-out" especially if the true goal is greater density.  Call it the basin, or zone 1, or downtown.... whatever.  The point is that the basin neighborhoods (including parts of Cov and Newport) have a character distinct form the rest of the city's other 46 neighborhoods and countless suburbs.  That character is stems from being amoungst the area's major urban landmarks and places of business... downtown.

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No -- "Downtown" as understood by the big-time developers means sites for skyscrapers or other major buildings.

 

Jake- not to be a contrarian/stickler and I appreciate your point of view and expertise in many areas--- but "downtown" is used by many to refer to between 4 and 6 Cincinnati neighborhoods. (Riverfront, Queensgate, OTR, West End and Pendelton & The Banks - if you count them despite being very small and under-development respectively.) ie Where is Union Terminal...ah its "downtown."

 

It all depends on the audience.  Downtown to those with the capital to build major buildings is the CBD, downtown to my niece apparently starts somewhere around Norwood. (I need to educate that kid.) 

 

Has any thought been put into at least putting walls around the holes? Not sure what the covering would be, murals maybe. It would change both the sight line and the way noise reacts with the surrounding structures. 

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^ Not a bad idea. Windows could be put on them so they look sort of like real buildings (perhaps with missing roofs)...but when you look inside they make a spectacle of the traffic like on the Highline.

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No -- "Downtown" as understood by the big-time developers means sites for skyscrapers or other major buildings.  Downtown Cincinnati pretty much means from 3rd to 7th between Race and Broadway.  The "civic mall" proposed for Central Parkway back in 1925 was a way to keep Central Parkway from poaching downtown.  They're still doing it by placing the SCPA school there recently (the whole "proximity to Music Hall" bit was a pile).  The Aronoff and CAC were placed downtown in part to eliminate competing skyscraper sites.  So the big money uses the arts as a way to do their real estate dirty work. 

 

 

 

Cincinnati's CBD is physically constricted by urban fabric to the north and used to be to the west before the demolitions between the 40's and 60's.  The scope of office projects in 1925 is different from 2012.  Concerning yourself with skyscrapers plopped all over OTR is just imagination.  Cincinnati isn't Europe.

 

The Central Parkway formerly known as a canal was a line of demarcation between the business district inside of Court and the commercial district north of 12th well before it was drained.  If Central Parkway was lined with towers up for a few blocks, it would be an extension of the business district, not an infringement upon the residential districts that surround the CBD.

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Isn't the part of 71 that needs to be capped already capped with the tunnel?  Or is the suggestion to cap 71 from, say, P & G all the way to Mt. Adams?

 

The spaghetti junction at 75/71 gets a lot of criticism, but the spaghetti junction at 71/471 is pretty bad too. Hopefully we can clean that up sometime soon.

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>Concerning yourself with skyscrapers plopped all over OTR is just imagination.

 

No, I'm not making this up.  The specter of Cincinnati's center shifting from Fountain Square north to Central Parkway was a huge concern from the moment the canal became obsolete, which was roughly around 1870.  It took 50 years to get rid of the canal largely for the reason that an underground rail station and a parkway above would, decisively, make it the most valuable address in Cincinnati.  And yes, if an underground train station was built in the canal, skyscrapers would have been built in Over-the-Rhine. 

 

A big reason the subway project was killed off was because its interurban terminal was built in Central Parkway, not at Fountain Square.  There was a proposal to build it under 5th St. between Vine and Main (Fountain Square + Government Square), but that would have consumed roughly 20% of the cost of the entire Rapid Transit Loop project.  So an 860 foot, 10-track underground station would have cost roughly as much as the entire 5~ mile above ground run from Ludlow Avenue to Norwood. 

 

I suggest reading Robert Fogelson's Downtown: It's Rise and Fall (1880-1950):

 

http://www.amazon.com/Downtown-Its-Rise-Fall-1880-1950/dp/0300098278

 

This book primarily concerns NYC, Boston, Detroit, etc., but Cincinnati gets at least 10 pages of discussion, including the battle over the interuban terminal. 

 

 

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