- Mike Rutledge Staff Writer
During last week’s Hamilton City Council meeting where elected officials authorized signing of a closing agreement for partial sale of the Greenup Hydroelectric Project on the Ohio River to American Municipal Power, city leaders noted the significance of that and another action that evening.
The other legislation was a resolution amending an agreement between the city and Butler County Transportation Improvement District for the nearly $29 million South Hamilton Crossing railroad overpass project, which will extend Grand Boulevard westward, easily conveying traffic over the CSX railroad tracks.
The South Hamilton Crossing concept has been sought on and off for more than a hundred years, and will better link Ohio 4 with the University Boulevard area — including Miami University Hamilton, Vora Technology Park and University Commerce Park. Among other things, it will help alleviate traffic on busy High Street. The project may be awarded this month, with completion in 2018.
“This has been something that the city of Hamilton’s been talking about for well over a hundred years,” City Manager Joshua Smith said about the highway project. “I know Vice Mayor (Carla) Fiehrer in particular, since the day I started, has been pushing this project incredibly hard.”
“I think we need to take a step back and just recognize the fact that something that’s been talked about for over a century is actually going to be happening, right on the heels of talking about Meldahl (the city’s brand-new second hydroelectric plant on the Ohio River, and third hydro plant owned by the city overall, with the third being on a Great Miami River canal in the city),” Smith said.
This month, the city will sell 48.6 percent of its ownership in Greenup to AMP, while retaining the other 51.4 percent, the same ownership percentage it has of the new Meldahl plant.
“I think this is a very significant council meeting,” Smith said.
Fiehrer said Friday that in serving on Butler County TID’s board, “that’s when I really found out a lot about South Hamilton Crossing and the safety hazards that exist there” with vehicles crossing the CSX tracks in that area.
“So it was a real safety issue, and then the more we talked about economic development, and with all the land that’s right there, that potentially can open up, it just seemed like a win-win, getting the thing done as soon as we could,” Fiehrer said.
“And then you’ve got the traffic congestion on High Street that you’re not going to have to deal with anymore, because it’s going to make that load a lot lighter,” she said. “So three key reasons to get it done.”