With the significant South Hamilton Crossing highway project well underway after more than a century of discussions, the Butler County seat now is talking about North Hamilton Crossing.
That project, in its infancy, would construct a bridge over the Great Miami River somewhere in the area of where NW Washington Boulevard, North B Street and West Elkton Road draw closely together.
A major benefit would be to help ease traffic on B Street and other areas near the proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill mega sports complex, not far south of there, on the west side of the river.
One possibility that has been contemplated: Linking Northwest Boulevard eastward to Hampshire Drive, which is about a mile east of where High Street intersects with Ohio 4.
City Manager Joshua Smith recently met with Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens to start discussing the most preliminary issues surrounding the proposed project. Smith listed three of the top issues:
- What exactly is the outcome we want as a region?
- Who are the key stakeholders who need to be involved from the very beginning?
- How do we determine two or three different routes so we can begin an initial vetting process with the public?
“We understand that due to the river and number of trains that travel Hamilton daily, we need to be proactive in identifying ways to get the traveling public safely and efficiently through our city,” Smith said. “South Hamilton Crossing took over 100 years from concept to construction and we need to move more quickly regarding a northern crossing.”
The project could be more than a decade from completion, predicted Dale Schwieterman, deputy engineer at the Butler County Engineer’s Office.
Much of the project is undetermined, Smith emphasized. But in general, “We are studying various routes but I would say generally just north of the Black Street Bridge/North B St over to around where our power plant is located,” he said.
“The Bonham Farm is north of this area and we don’t have their permission to place infrastructure there, so we are analyzing multiple routes that will avoid their farm,” Smith said.
In January, Hamilton’s transportation and traffic engineer, Kris Butterfield, said one long-term solution — which wouldn’t be cheap — would be to extend Washington Boulevard from West Elkton Road across a new bridge spanning the Great Miami River, and tie back into Ohio 129, perhaps at Hampshire Drive (east of Fair Avenue), as a way to ease heavy traffic on High and Main streets.
“If we had a location and funding in place today, it would take five or 10 years, probably, starting from ground zero, to build something — and that would be knowing everything,” Schwieterman said.
Without a route in place, the project would take longer because of the need to buy properties and conduct the required environmental studies, he said.
“The whole process is quite lengthy…. There’s a lot of things that can put up road bumps, or even road blocks, on some of these projects,” Schwieterman said.