Monday, May 14, 2012

'Road diet' for Liberty Street pursued

By early June, a report is due to Cincinnati City Council on the feasibility of a "road diet" redesign of Liberty Street between Central Parkway and Sycamore Street.

At its May 9 meeting, councilmembers Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls introduced a motion asking the City's Department of Transportation and Engineering to look into changes to the heavily-trafficked corridor that could restore its pedestrian character and make it more attractive for mixed-use, sustainable redevelopment.

In 1957, Liberty Street was widened to facilitate the rapid east-west movement of automobile traffic. To accomplish this task, dozens of buildings along the south side of the street were demolished, removing the street's once-dense and thriving urban fabric and effectively dividing the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in two.

To correct this problem, the 2011 Brewery District Master Plan proposed "complete streets" refinements to the roadway, such as lane reductions, bump outs, streetscaping, intersection redesign and retiming, widened sidewalks and bike lanes.

The new Liberty Street would accommodate five lanes for motor vehicles, two lanes for bicycles, and widened sidewalks. The outermost vehicle lanes would be used for parallel parking, and the center lane would be used for left turns.

Additionally, the master plan suggests that there are more than four acres of vacant or undeveloped land along the street. These parcels represent an opportunity to recreate streetscapes that address both Liberty Street and its intersecting north-south secondary streets.

Qualls has been the City's foremost proponent of local Complete Streets standards, first introducing the idea in a Council motion in August 2009.

Since then, complete streets, road diet concepts have been studied for Montana Avenue in Westwood, Madison Road in O'Bryonville/Hyde Park, Beechmont Avenue in Mount Washington, and William H Taft Road and E McMillan Street in Walnut Hills.

New City-wide street standards are expected to be finalized later this summer and will be added to the City's new form-based code and Plan Cincinnati comprehensive master plan.

Images courtesy of the 2011 Brewery District Master Plan.

Previous reading on BC:
Conversion of Taft and E McMillan should wait, report says (8/9/10)
Cincinnati seeking input on Madison Road 'complete streets' project (6/30/10)
Sixteen properties to be affected by Montana Avenue project (4/21/10)
Transit-oriented zoning to be before Cincinnati council by September (4/5/10)
Qualls motion asks for Complete Streets strategy (8/10/09)