Some Cincinnatians may not know what they've got 'til it's gone.
The Eastern Corridor Plan, an initiative sponsored by theOhio, Kentucky and Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) aims to improve transportation in the Cincinnati metropolitan area.
The plan proposes, among other things, extended bus service, new bike paths, light rail and highway improvements.
One such improvement is a $77 million highway linking Columbia Parkwayand Interstate 275. The 10-mile long highway would consist of an elevated viaduct running along the Little Miami River, with a bridge crossing the river at Horseshoe Bend, in Fairfax.
There lies the problem.
The Little Miami River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1980, one of three in Ohio, and is one of the state's most biologically diverse streams.
Stanley Hedeen, professor of biology at Xavier University, says 201 species of birds have been observed and recorded at Horseshoe Bend, thanks to the habitat complex of river, beach, forest and fields the Little Miami provides.
"The river is a real treasure for Ohio and the nation and is too valuable an asset to compromise for sprawl-inducingfreeway expansion," Hedeen says.
The highway is opposed by the Sierra Club's Ohio Chapter, which held an Earth Day rally April 20 at Dogwood Park in Mariemont, calling on Ohio Gov. Robert Taft to protect the Little Miami by stopping the highway and exploring responsible transportation alternatives.
An independent study, commissioned by the national and Ohio Sierra Clubs, suggests that region-wide traffic would actually increase by1.8 percent if the highway is constructed.
"It is extraordinary to have a Wild and Scenic River in a major
metropolitan area," says Glen Brand, regional organizer for the Sierra Club. "It would be a terrible mistake not to protect it.
"We are finally paying the price for a generation of poor planning. Sprawlcreates traffic congestion, which is treated symptomatically by building more roads, which leads to more sprawl in an endless cycle.The only way to break this cycle is to present the public with transportation choices."
To learn more about the Little Miami River campaign, visit ohio.sierraclub.org. To learn more about the Eastern Corridor Plan, visit www.easterncorridor.org.