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Fixing Columbia Parkway Comes With Cost And Traffic Headaches

columbia parkway landslide 2
Jay Hanselman
The latest landslide along Columbia Parkway between Kemper and Taft.

Cincinnati officials are recommending a plan to permanently address the landslides along portions of Columbia Parkway.
But the work will cost at least $17 million and likely lead to lane closures on the major artery for up two years.

Mayor John Cranley said officials don't know exactly the total scope or cost. Those details could be available in a couple weeks.

"We're not going to put a band-aid on, and we're not going to kick the can down the road," Cranley said. "There are clearly major geological landslides that have happened over the last several months that are clearly indicative of a bigger problem than a temporary fix."

columbia parkway landslide 1
Credit Jay Hanselman / WVXU
One of several active landslides along Columbia Parkway that has caused lane closures along the major artery.

City officials hope to keep two lanes open, one in each direction, and that could increase to three or four lanes at times during the construction. There will also be times when all of Columba Parkway, or some sections of it, will be completely closed to traffic.

"This is a major inconvenience to tens of thousands of people every day, and will be for the next two years," Cranley said. "But it's also the case that we have an obligation to fix it. And to fix it right and not to waste money on a band-aid that not only doesn't solve the problem but solves it for a couple months and we have to shut it down again."

A series of new retaining walls and "soil nailing" will be used to secure the hillside for what Cranley calls the "next generation," which he calls a 30- to 50-year fix.

"We're recommending that 12 active landslides between Bains and a point about 700 feet east of Torrence will be repaired, and that's the $17 million project," said City Transportation and Engineering Director Joe Vogel. "We're going to stabilize those active landslides and we believe that will lend stability to the areas in between that are not currently active."

Since the first of the year, there have been at least seven landslides along portion of Columbia Parkway.

On Wednesday, City Council approved spending $750,000 for emergency repairs for an active slide between Kemper and Taft. Earlier this month, the city had awarded a $912,000 emergency contract for repairs between Eastern Avenue and Linwood Avenue and below Richwood Circle.

Specific traffic control details during the permanent repair projects are not yet complete.  The mayor said the city could temporarily reconfigure Riverside Drive to ease congestion with work on Columbia Parkway.
City administrators will be working on finding funding sources to pay for projects and present options to City Council. Since it could last for up two years, it could be spread across several city fiscal year budgets.