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Three Of Four Ramps Open At New MLK/I71 Interchange

Bill Rinehart
The ramp from MLK to southbound I71 has paving and striping left to do, and should be open by next week.

The I-71/MLK interchange isn't quite done but officials gathered Tuesday to cut the ribbon for the project. ODOT Director Jerry Wray says it's worth celebrating because such a project is rare.

"Because less and less of our resources are going towards new capacity or new access." Wray said more than 93 percent of ODOT's resources are devoted to existing roads and infrastructure.

The north and southbound off-ramps are both done, as is the northbound on-ramp. The ramp from MLK to southbound I-71 should be open by Monday.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says the $80 million project opens up seven Cincinnati neighborhoods to economic development. "I'm willing to bet you that ten years from now, 20 years from now, we're going to say 'Wow! This was the amazing catalyst for the reinvestment of these great historic neighborhoods,' and it will be the future of the city."

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
State, county and city officials cut a ribbon to mark the end of the MLK/I71 project.

The ramps at MLK and I-71 will open up Avondale, Evanston, and Mount Auburn, among others. Walnut Hills Community Council Member Kathryne Gardette hopes people take advantage of it to see what the neighborhood has to offer, like the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.

"There are 10,000 people that will come by this every day. Which way will they turn? Will they turn to go to Uptown to all the healthcare and the education? Or will they do a divergent? And as they do, end up by Walnut Hills High School in Evanston. Or will they go by Frederick Douglas, which is the first charter school in this country," Gardette said.

The project also includes a memorial plaza to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Work on that should start next week and be completed by early September.