George Bowman of the North End said during the meeting a primary concern was the route would displace a lot of residents, many of whom have generational homes. He’s also fearful it would impact the North End Ballfields, a place where many of the children in the neighborhood play.
And any resident that would get displaced, he fears “they would not be able to find appropriate housing at the current market” as many are on fixed incomes and they couldn’t afford even a fair market value home.
Smith responded to the issues raised, saying last month he believed the city had been transparent and took responsibility for a significant number of North End residents, who had a peaceful protest ahead of the Dec. 14 City Council meeting, for being ill-informed about the project.
“In my opinion, we had tried hard to do better with transparency,” Smith had said. “Even as much as we think we’re doing well, or we’re trying to do, in my opinion, I have failed because they felt that way about the lack of information.”
After the North Hamilton Crossing discussion, Smith went outside council chambers to further talk with the residents.
“Even with doing all these things in the last 12-1/2 years, we have more to do, I have more to do, and I admitted that to the group out there,” Smith told City Council. “We’ll just have to roll up our shirt sleeves and just do a better job of communicating, and not think that we did not try to communicate, but obviously we did not do a good enough job communicating.”
The North Hamilton Crossing, to be a mirror project to the South Hamilton Crossing that opened in 2018, would address the growing traffic happening in the city with dozens of new major developments in recent years. The insufficient transportation challenges are only amplified by the positive impact on jobs and progress in Hamilton, city officials have said.
In addition to inefficient roadway connections to major state routes and interstates, there’s difficulty traveling to the east and west sides of Hamilton, both on streets and across bridges; there are high crash rates at key intersections; there are travel delays caused by congestion and frequent train crossings; and there are few public transit alternatives.
The South Hamilton Crossing, a $32 million project that opened several years ago, provides an overpass across four busy CSX railroad tracks and has reduced travel times and increased safety while providing improved access to Miami University Regionals-Hamilton, Vora Technology Park, and more than 60 acres of vacant land.
North Hamilton Crossing, according to the city, would provide similar benefits. The earliest this project could be constructed is in 2026, but Smith also said that it could happen well after that date.
A specific route has not been identified, and in fact, Allen Messer, Hamilton’s assistant director of engineering, said they’ve looked at “16 or so routes, but we haven’t identified a route yet.”
“We really do welcome the input,” he told the North End residents during Wednesday’s City Council meeting, emphasizing they should attend the Jan. 23 meeting or provide comments during the 45-day virtual input session online. He added that input would also never be over until construction starts.
“There will be more public meetings in the future, and until shovel hits the ground, people are welcome to provide their input,” he said.
And as far as displaced residents, though no properties or routes have been named, there are state and federal protections they’d be abiding by, Messer said.
“Nobody is put out without identifying a house that matches, essentially in size of where they are now,” Messer said. “And if that house costs more, that person is paid more for their house, so they can essentially afford it.”
NORTH HAMILTON CROSSING MEETING
A public meeting on the North Hamilton Crossing project is set for 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Fairwood Elementary, 281 N. Fair Ave. Any impacted, whether they are a resident or traveler that use Hamilton roads are encouraged to attend.
For more information, visit www.northhamiltoncrossing.org.