The new $32 million South Hamilton Crossing, which opened in December, is increasingly carrying motorists who are happy to have a quicker route between Ohio 4 and the area of Miami University’s Hamilton campus and other areas of the city’s West Side.
But how much traffic is being pulled from Hamilton’s sometimes-overcrowded corridor of High Street and Main Street isn’t yet known. Officials won’t have a good idea of that until traffic counts are done on the new roadway, which carries Grand Boulevard over the CSX railroad tracks, and on High and Main streets.
“We haven’t done any traffic counts out there yet,” city Engineer Rich Engle said recently. “We plan on doing that at some point.
“Every time I use it, which is every time I go south, it seems like there is quite a bit of traffic going over it.”
Engle and other city officials have said they aren’t sure how much a lessening of traffic there has been on High and Main streets, which see heavy traffic during the morning and evening commute times.
“I’ve been trying to pay attention to that, and some days it seems like it’s overly congested, like it has been in the past years, but other days it looks very light between 5 and 5:30 (p.m.), so I haven’t quite put a handle on what is happening there.”
Engle said the Ohio Department of Transportation would do the traffic count on High and Main Streets, also known as Ohio 129. That route carries large amounts of traffic between the eastern and western parts of Butler County, in addition to carrying traffic between Hamilton’s east and west sides.
When South Hamilton Crossing opened after more than a century of discussion, it became the second Hamilton roadway where drivers can cross over or under the CSX tracks without having to watch for trains. In addition to South Hamilton Crossing, which passes over the tracks, High Street passes underneath the tracks without having to stop.
Much of the time, at least in the past, traffic going from Ohio 4 to places like Hamilton’s Lindenwald neighborhood, the Miami University Hamilton campus and parts of the West Side would take High Street before going south on Martin Luther King Boulevard or other north-south streets to get to those areas.
But with the speed and smoothness of using South Hamilton Crossing, vehicles now can drive on Ohio 4 to Grand Boulevard, which more easily connects the southern parts of Hamilton with each other.
Many Hamilton residents have expressed concern that the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, the gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center, will significantly increase traffic on High and Main Streets. But City Manager Joshua Smith has said that traffic studies of the existing Spooky Nook facility near Manheim, Pa., show athletes and their families tend to arrive after 6 p.m. on Fridays and during the day on Sunday — at other times than the heavy local commuter traffic.
Hamilton officials are taking steps, meanwhile, to create a “North Hamilton Crossing” that would alleviate traffic on High and Main during rush hours, while also helping vehicles get from the east side of the city to the Spooky Nook complex.
No route for that North Hamilton Crossing, which also would allow vehicles to get from Interstate 75 and eastern Butler County to reach western Butler County. The city continues to work to identify funding sources to pay for the initial Purpose and Needs Study and the environmental study that would be early steps in moving the project toward construction.
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