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Feds giving $20M for West Side road redesign and $127M for Western Hills Viaduct replacement

The Cincinnati skyline as seen from Lower Price Hill.
Becca Costello
The Cincinnati skyline as seen from Lower Price Hill.

Cincinnati’s first grant from the federal infrastructure law is $20 million to redesign corridors in the West End, Queensgate and Lower Price Hill. The project includes Linn Street, West Eighth Street and State Avenue.

Designs call for reducing lanes for vehicle traffic, planting trees and adding bump-outs and protected bike lanes.

“What I'm most excited about in the entire project is the road diet that Linn Street will be going on,” said Mayor Aftab Pureval. “It is the main artery of the West End. There's a lot of excitement from West End residents, and West End developers based in the neighborhood, to really revitalize that economic corridor.”

The city will contribute $6.25 million for the project, which could come from the city’s capital budget or from state and local grants.

“When we look at it from an equity standpoint, in terms of connecting people to jobs and resources, a third of people within these communities … don't have vehicles,” said Council Member Meeka Owens. “[They] will be able to take advantage of this mobility and connectivity.”

Linn Street Corridor features

  • Remove one travel lane in each direction, creating a three-lane cross-section
  • Install protected bike facility
  • Construct center medians where possible
  • Construct bump-outs at intersections and midblock crosswalks
  • New curb, sidewalk and stormwater infrastructure
  • Install trees with soil cells
  • Upgrade six traffic signals and add two new signals
  • Apply carbon absorbing asphalt during pavement rehabilitation

West 8th and West 9th extension

  • Install new curb and sidewalk to reduce travel lanes in each direction
  • Install new protected bike facility (includes connection over I-75 to Downtown that does not exist currently)
  • Construct intersections geometric improvements, including removal of slip lanes
  • Upgrade traffic signals and add new signal at W. 8th and Depot Street intersection
  • Construct bump-outs and other pedestrian safety improvements
  • Install trees with soil cells
  • Apply carbon absorbing asphalt during pavement rehabilitation

State Ave. features

  • Construct new, wider ADA-compliant sidewalks
  • Construct bump-outs and other pedestrian safety improvements
  • Install pedestrian-level decorative LED street lighting
  • Install trees with soil cells
  • Apply carbon absorbing asphalt
A map showing the area covered by the federal RAISE grant for $20 million.
Department of Transportation and Engineering
City of Cincinnati
A map showing the area covered by the federal RAISE grant for $20 million.

City staff have been working with the community councils for about two years before submitting the grant proposal. Some design elements are likely to change as the project moves forward and more resident input is incorporated.

Construction is expected to start in 2026 and be complete within one or two years.

DOTE is applying for other grants through the federal infrastructure law, including one aimed at communities split by highways.

“The project that we're looking at submitting for this year is in Evanston, [where] I-71 split Evanston basically in half,” said DOTE Director John Brazina. “And so we're looking at improving the bridges and improving the connectivity across the highway on Woodburn, Montgomery and Trimble, improving those corridors for pedestrian access and to improve them to reconnect the two sides of Evanston.”

Asked about whether the West End might be a better neighborhood for that grant, Brazina said they considered that but believe similar improvements can be made as part of the Brent Spence Bridge project, and that the state department of transportation may be able to absorb those costs.

“We've worked with ODOT on bridges for 7th Street, 9th Street, Ezzard Charles, to incorporate some sort of reconnection to those communities,” Brazina said. “So they're going to have a better, much better look and feel than what they are today.”

Western Hills Viaduct

The city has also won a separate federal grant for $127 million to replace the Western Hills Viaduct, which brings that project to full funding. Pureval says the grant is a game-changer.

“There was a gap in funding for the capital stack for that project,” he said. “Bringing in $127 million closes the gap and gives us a clear path to breaking ground.”

The price tag has also gone up in the decade local officials have been working on it. The current estimate is close to $398 million, up from $335 million last year.

The newest grant is from the INFRA program (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America), not the federal infrastructure law (although that law did increase funding to INFRA).

The city has applied for other grants for the project, as well.

Construction of a new bridge is slated to start in 2025 and be complete in 2030. The existing viaduct will remain in place until then.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.