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Ohio Transportation Projects Make Best and Worst List


Thursday, December 27, 2012   

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Two Ohio projects have landed on the Sierra Club's list of the nation's 50 best and worst transportation projects.

The Sierra Club's new report highlighted the Eastern Corridor Highway near Cincinnati as one of the worst transportation plans. It would drive a new four-lane roadway through important historical and archaeological sites, and run alongside the Little Miami River, which has received both state and national scenic-waterway designation. Local resident and Sierra Club Transportation Committee chairwoman Chris Curran says it would increase truck traffic in areas near parks, fields and schools.

"Here we have this river and they want to jam a highway right next to it. So, where children are playing, they're going to have diesel truck traffic coming through. That's not good for the health of these children."

The Ohio Department of Transportation is still collecting input on the Eastern Corridor plan, and many residents have voiced opposition.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati streetcar project made the club's "best" list for its ability to reduce pollution and vehicle emissions, drive economic development and offer more transportation accessibility and mobility.

The report evaluated projects based on oil use, environmental impact, health effects, economics and land use. Curran says the streetcar is a great example as other cities in Ohio look for ways to improve their transportation infrastructure.

"We want a cost-effective transit system that takes you from walking safely to school, walking safely to your neighborhood store, all the way to connecting crosstown and in between cities."

The Eastern Corridor plan does have positive elements, Curran says, including bike trails and a transit component, but she says the highway aspect needs to be removed.

Curran says increasing numbers of Ohioans are voicing interest in bus, rail and bicycles, but despite increased transit ridership and bicycle commuting, most transportation dollars are spent on highways and little on other options.

"Right now if you look at what Ohio is spending, it's incredible: the piece of the pie that goes to transit, that goes to hike-bike. We're talking about tiny percentages of the money."

Curran says transportation dollars need to be distributed more evenly and include significant investments in public transit and other automobile alternatives.

The study is online at ohiosierraclub.org.

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