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West siders want rail option on new Western Hills viaduct

City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati transportation officials are in the beginning stages of replacing the aging Western Hills viaduct. It was built in 1932 and is beyond its useful and design life.  

Right now it carries 55,000 vehicles a day.  

As the city works on plans for a replacement, some west side residents are asking for rail transit to be a part of the plan.

“We need to build this thing with a dedicated right-of-way and the super structure to support it, including the road bed, for rail traffic to the west side,” said John Eby.  “This is our last opportunity to connect 20 percent of the city’s population to downtown, to UC, even the east side.”

Price Hill Will Executive Director Ken Smith said it is about the future.

“The Eighth Street viaduct has been redone as you know, the Sixth Street viaduct is being finished as we speak, and really the Western Hills viaduct represents the last real option to provide support for any type of rail transportation,” Smith said.

The city is studying a plan that would include a new double deck bridge that would be located south of the existing viaduct.  

Transportation officials said without the rail option, the project could cost $240 million to build.  Designated lanes for light rail would add about $50 million to the price tag.  A streetcar option would be cheaper since it would run in travel lanes.  

The beginning of any construction work on the project is likely 6 to 8 years away.