CINCINNATI — The City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County plan to seek a federal grant to design decks on top of a portion of Fort Washington Way.
The goal is to reconnect the Central Business District with the Banks.
The city and the county are working to pursue the planning grant from the Reconnecting Communities pilot program, a new program created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to reconnect communities that have been cut off by highway investments.
"Business leaders wisely invested in foundations that make today’s plan possible," said Jill P. Meyer, CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "We’re excited to present the community with a one-of-a-kind regional asset that will spur economic development, create a vibrant space for the region, and take advantage of the incredible opportunity the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offers to catalyze this long-planned-for project."
Designers from local firm KZF Design presented plans Tuesday for the massive project.
Initial renderings released by the design company show a deck being constructed that completely covers Fort Washington Way between Second and Third Streets and Race to Walnut.
The decks are permanent, physical structures that essentially turn part of Fort Washington Way into a tunnel. Renderings also show the possibility of creating open green space and a soccer field along with areas for dining and watching local sports.
Some employees at nearby local businesses were supportive of the idea.
"There are going be a lot of footsteps coming this way," said Jordan Johnson, who works at In Between Tavern on Third St. "10 years ago, when I was 15, we had nothing down here. It was not fun. There was no reason to be outside."
A preliminary estimate shows the total cost of the project could be between $95 and $110 million. City and county leaders plan to request federal funding to help.
"It'll be nice to have more of a green space for people to enjoy close by," said Liz Naugher, the general manager of Lola's Coffee just down the street. "They don't have to go all the way down to the river."
Not everyone is a fan of the idea.
“Of the city’s 52 neighborhoods, almost every single one has a highway that is cutting it up or maybe it's a barrier to the next neighborhood over,” said Kerry Devery, president of the Madisonville Community Council. “You could use this money and half of it could go to fix up half a dozen neighborhoods.”
Cincinnati Mayor After Pureval referenced several projects at Tuesday’s presentation that the city is working on. He mentioned working on finishing the Western Hills viaduct and receiving grants to connect communities in Lower Price Hill, Evanston, the West End and Hyde Park. The Mayor also named the Brent Spence Bridge a priority.
"The only reason we are here is because of this extraordinary opportunity created by the bipartisan infrastructure bill," Pureval said. "This is a unique once-in-a-generation opportunity to have the funds to do the projects that we've all been dreaming of."
The project is still in the proposal phase. If this initial grant is approved, leaders will start the 18-month community feedback process.
Beechmont Bridge Connector open after years of planning, construction
4th Street Bridge in Northern Kentucky will undergo construction to create designated bike lanes
Modular home building growing amidst new home construction shortage