Council Majority: Liberty Street 'Road Diet' Needs To Move Forward

Feb 28, 2019

Five Cincinnati council members have signed a motion asking city administrators to move with a final design and bidding on the Liberty Street Improvement Project.  

The goal of the plan is to increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians.  

Council voted to fund the remaining cost of the work in October and gave officials two months to come up with different options to reduce the price of the project.  

Council Member Chris Seelbach said that hasn't happened.

"This idea that we've somehow authorized them to continue to look at alternate ideas for this project is not true," Seelbach said. "The ordinance says they had 60 days, they didn't do anything within 60 days that was brought back to us, so I don't think that they have the ability to continue working on alternate ideas for the Liberty Street road diet."

Seelbach said he's OK if there's a public hearing on his motion to move forward.  

Mayor John Cranley says there needs to be more input.

"It appears that we may have been lucky if it did take longer than 60 days because I know for example that Chatfield College is very concerned, not about a safety diet for Liberty, a road diet that would make Liberty safer," Cranley said. "They're very worried about the loss of on-street parking for their students."

Cranley said the issue needed to go to a committee with a significant number of council members represented. The item was instead referred to Law and Public Safety, which has three members.

A council aide said Chatfield students are impacted more by the new Over-the-Rhine residential parking permit program, which started in January, than the Liberty Street project.  

Some OTR 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.

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.