A North Hamilton Crossing this time? Officials in early planning for city’s next big traffic fix

Hamilton will go ahead with planned tweaks of traffic signals along the High-Main corridor through downtown, but will have traffic consultants on hand to change the signals immediately if backups ensue on side streets, City Manager Joshua Smith told City Council. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
Caption
Hamilton will go ahead with planned tweaks of traffic signals along the High-Main corridor through downtown, but will have traffic consultants on hand to change the signals immediately if backups ensue on side streets, City Manager Joshua Smith told City Council. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch

City officials are taking the first steps in the long process toward creating a pseudo bypass around the High Street business corridor to make it easier for traffic to get to Interstate-75 and eastern Butler County from Hamilton’s West Side and areas of the county west of there.

The first step in creating what officials call North Hamilton Crossing is to figure out how to finance the early studies that ultimately will allow the project to happen, City Engineer Rich Engle said.

“We are just starting our preliminary conversation about how to fund the initial Purpose and Needs Study and the Environmental Study,” Engle said.

Both are part of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s project-development process.

“In order to qualify for either state or federal funding at a later date, we have to closely follow ODOT’s process,” Engle said. “That’s why we’re going through it.”

He and other city officials have said no route for the proposed North Hamilton Crossing has been determined.

Traffic along the east-west corridor of High Street and Main Street through the city has become increasingly crowded in recent years, particularly at rush hour. Many residents have expressed concern that when the proposed gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center called Spooky Nook at Champion Mill opens in mid-2021 along North B Street, traffic will worsen.

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City Manager Joshua Smith has said that, for the most part, traffic carrying athletes and their families to Spooky Nook for weekend tournaments will arrive and depart at different times from when the High-Main corridor is crowded now.

The Spooky Nook visitors will mainly arrive after 6 p.m. on Fridays, and leave by Sunday evenings, he has said.

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Still, city officials say they want to expedite the North Hamilton Crossing, which must span the Great Miami River and nearby railroad tracks north of the Spooky Nook site, at the former Champion Paper mill.

The Purpose and Needs study will determine “various routes” that can be used for the proposed roadway, Engle said.

Hamilton’s $32 million South Hamilton Crossing opened in December, allowing traffic to use Grand Boulevard to get from Ohio 4 to Miami University’s Hamilton campus and the city’s West Side.

The environmental study also will be pretty complex for North Hamilton Crossing, Engle said.

North Hamilton Crossing “is going to be a rather expensive project, and it’s obviously going to take a lot of effort on our staff, to make sure that progresses,” he said.

Because the city’s work with the Butler County Transportation Improvement District was so successful in accomplishing South Hamilton Crossing, the city and TID likely will work together again on the northern route, he added.

North Hamilton Crossing already is on the transportation plan through the year 2040 that’s kept by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Engle said.

“We put a bridge project on there just as a placeholder,” he said.

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