The Western Hills Viaduct is crumbling.
Cincinnatians were horrified — but not shocked — to hear that a piece of the much maligned Western Hills Viaduct had broken off a few weeks ago. The slab of concrete fell onto a truck stopped at a nearby traffic light. The bridge was reopened shortly after the incident, and the necessary inspections were made.
The bridge connecting Cincinnati’s West Side to the rest of the city is 85 years old and is used by 55,000 vehicles a day. It is the region’s second largest infrastructure concern, behind only the infamous Brent-Spence Bridge. However, unlike the Brent-Spence, the elected officials of Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati can do something about it.
Hamilton County’s Commissioners seem to realize the importance of this project, as does the Mayor of Cincinnati. John Cranley appealed to the State government for help on the issue. This appeal garnered a $10 million pledge from the State of Ohio. That leaves an estimated $300 million cost to be covered.
While both the County Commission and city government appear to recognize the necessity of the issue, the county has been inundated with the possibility of a stadium deal for FC Cincinnati and the city seems to be perpetually focused on the Streetcar and all of its “glories.” The Western Hills Viaduct seems to be falling by the wayside.
This is a classic case of two government entities engaged in a staring contest to see which one will blink first and begin the talks to fund this project. While they twiddle their thumbs, concrete slabs will continue to rain down on unsuspecting drivers.
After having been overshadowed by the Brent-Spence Bridge, and out-glamorized by other local issues, the county’s highest-traffic, non-interstate structure is now making waves. Hopefully its needs are addressed in the near future, preferably before we begin to discuss a foolish expansion of the Streetcar.
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