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Finding city funds for 71/MLK interchange project

Uptown Access Study website

Construction could start as soon as next summer on a plan to build an interchange with Interstate 71 and Martin Luther King Drive in Cincinnati.  

The Ohio Department of Transportation is fast-tracking the project and could select a consultant and contractor by the end of the year.  

But Cincinnati officials are still working to find a $20 million match for the construction.

City Transportation and Engineering Director Michael Moore explained that Tuesday during a Major Transportation and Infrastructure Projects Subcommittee meeting.

“Come December 3rd, the state will look for us to have a check,” Moore said.  “We will need to have a check.  If we don’t have a check, they want a very strong promise as it was expressed to me.”

Some media reports said ODOT would go ahead with or without the city contributing funds.

Council Member Chris Seelbach asked about that during the meeting.

“If the city does not have funding and does not come through, is there indications from that state that they’ll move forward on this with alternative funding,” Seelbach said.  “If that’s the case then we should allow them to do that.  Or do we really believe this project will not go forward without the city finding $20 million.”

Moore responded to that question.  

“As it has been expressed to me directly by the deputy director at District 8, they are looking for our participation in the project,” Moore said.  “If we’re not there, he did not say that they would not go forward or they would go forward.  But he said we need your participation in the project.  And that’s a quote.”

The city could still use money from the controversial parking lease for the $20 million.  

That's if Council doesn't re-work the terms of the lease agreement and reduce the amount of the upfront payment.  

The I-71/MLK interchange is expected to improve access to the Uptown area near the hospitals and the University of Cincinnati.

Council is expected to consider and vote on a funding plan when it returns from it summer recess in September.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.