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Cincinnati Council Still Working To Fund Liberty Street Plan

City of Cincinnati
Rendering of a plan to reduce Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine from seven lanes to five lanes.

Some Over-the-Rhine residents have been working and waiting for years on a plan to make Liberty Street narrower and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  
The plan calls for reducing the roadway from seven lanes to five.

They thought the plan was ready to go, but last month city administrators suggested pausing the proposal because of a nearly million dollar funding gap and concerns about how a new FC Cincinnati stadium will affect traffic on Liberty.

Some council members weren't happy with that and have been working to close the funding gap.

Part of the project involves relocating a water line. Council Member Greg Landsman asked if the project could be shifted.

"The project boils down to $960,000 associated with the relocation of a water main which is on the south side of Liberty," Landsman said. "If, hypothetically, this project were to move forward, but the additional two lanes were to be built on the north side, the relocation of the water main would no longer be an issue."

Officials said Tuesday switching to the north side of the street could take additional time, money and community input.

Council Member Chris Seelbach insisted the project needs to move forward.

"Instead of starting over on the whole scope of the project, respect the seven years of work that's been done by the administration and the community," Seelbach said. "And work on solving this last minute glitch - which is solvable - we just need five or six votes to solve it."

Council could vote next week on a plan to close the funding gap. Proposals include taking money from the sale of the Whex Garage at 212 W. Fourth Street, or using money from tax increment financing accounts from OTR East and OTR West areas.

According to a city memo, a 1957 widening project was completed on Liberty to facilitate an easier east-west vehicular connection with the West End, Over-the-Rhine and Mt. Auburn. But the wider road divided the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and made north-south pedestrian movement much more difficult.

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.