$20 Million Grant Will Fund Safer Cyclist, Pedestrian Connections from West Side to Downtown

West side infrastructure is having a moment.

click to enlarge Cyclist Tanner Yess rides on the current Lower Price Hill bike path. - Photo: Nick Swartsell
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Cyclist Tanner Yess rides on the current Lower Price Hill bike path.

West side pedestrians and cyclists could soon have a safer commute to downtown, thanks to a grant that Cincinnati will use to improve access to West End, Queensgate and Lower Price Hill.

A $20 million federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant was awarded to the city for the project titled “State to Central: Building Better Neighborhoods,” according to a news release from the city.  Council members want the city to chip in another $6.25 million for the project, either from city dollars or other non-federal grants.

Three west side areas will get a transportation facelift

The project includes plans to redesign three transit corridors:
  • Linn Street.
  • W. 8th Street
  • State Avenue
The city says the new designs will address safety deficiencies for pedestrians, reduce crashes and increase mobility and accessibility through universal design.

"It's going to be transformational for the West End," said Cincinnati Department of Transportation director Josh Brazina while presenting on the project to city council during a Sept. 13 Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting.

Council member Mark Jeffreys said the project will repair some of the damage done by the Brent Spence Bridge that upended thousands of Black residents during its construction in 1960.

"There were 25,000 people displaced by the highway," Jeffreys said. "Reconnecting those communities, I think, is a great opportunity."
The city will add 3.3 miles of protected bike lanes to increase connectivity between the neighborhoods and make improvements to 36 intersections. Travel lanes will be reduced, slip lanes will be removed, and traffic signals will be added, all along paths of newly-added trees.

“Improved mental health, cardiovascular support, mobility, safe places, inclusivity, beautification…” said council member Meeka Owens during the Sept. 13 meeting. “These are all benefits, plus more, of what complete streets means for communities.”

The city will work with neighborhood councils to roll out construction starting in 2024. A completion timeline has not yet been announced.

A new wave of safer alternative transportation

Safer access to roads for cyclists and pedestrians is being pushed in multiple corners of Greater Cincinnati. The

The new Beechmont Bridge Connector opens Sept. 21 and will allow users to safely travel from the Little Miami Scenic Trail to the Ohio River Trail for the first time.

Todd Palmeter, CEO of Great Parks of Hamilton County, said the connector opens up a new portal of access for cyclists who want to commute downtown.

"Getting to downtown Cincinnati is huge," Palmeter said. "There's a lot of cyclists who want to commute by bike to downtown, and before this bridge was completed they had to ride on Beechmont Avenue or Kellogg Avenue. Those are not safe for large amounts of bicycle traffic. I think we'll see more people starting to commute now that they have this safe crossing."
Cycling safety advocates are also pushing for protection from cars in northern Kentucky where a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run on Newport's Girl Scout Bridge in August. 

The Devou Good Foundation – an organization that supports active transportation in Greater Cincinnati — wants to install a water wall on the bridge to create a barrier between drivers and cyclists. The initiative is being held up by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) which owns and controls the bridge.

Concern for pedestrians

In April, Cincinnati City Council members unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that provides an extra $1 million in speed-reduction measures and other tools to help protect pedestrians. With the new one-time investment, Cincinnati's Department of Transportation & Engineering is increasing the number of communities receiving speed-reduction tools while also producing new safety measures such as hardened centerlines (forcing motorists to make left turns more slowly) and curb bump-outs that offer some protection to pedestrians.

Pedestrian safety has been a growing concern in Cincinnati neighborhoods. In April, Pureval said that more than 300 pedestrians had been hit by vehicles in 2021, and seven of those people died.

West side infrastructure is having a moment

The State to Central: Building Better Neighborhoods project isn’t the only multi-million dollar effort to safely connect Cincinnati’s west side to its urban core. 

Cincinnati has been awarded a $127 million federal transportation grant for the Western Hills Viaduct replacement project. Construction of the new bridge is expected to begin by 2025. The bridge will extend nearly a half mile over CSX Transportation’s Queensgate Yard.

Drivers will still use the existing viaduct until its replacement is finished sometime in 2030.


Stay connected with CityBeat. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google News, Apple News and Reddit.

Send CityBeat a news or story tip or submit a calendar event.

Scroll to read more Cincinnati News articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.