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Possible North Hamilton Crossing price tag in Hamilton: $75M or more

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Stunning aerial view of downtown Hamilton

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

It could cost $75 million or more to build the proposed North Hamilton Crossing project — a bridge or bridges over the Great Miami River and CSX railroad tracks and a highway linking that to Ohio 129 near the eastern edge of Hamilton. And it will take an unknowable number of years to complete, an official said this week.

A replacement for the Black Street Bridge, which is a century old and about 20 years from needing replacement, is estimated to cost $40 million, with a highway to the eastern part of the city estimated to be $35 or more, depending on the route it would take, Dan Corey, director of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District, told this media outlet.

The project could cost more than that, with inflation and depending on the route taken, he noted. City residents and some officials have expressed eagerness to see the project happen as a way to alleviate traffic on the corridor of High and Main streets, and also to help with heavy traffic expected to come after the proposed Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill complex opens in December of 2021.

City officials last year estimated the project could take decades and $150 million to $200 million to become reality.

ExploreOUR PREVIOUS COVERAGE: North Hamilton Crossing could take decades, cost $150-$200M

During the improvement district’s meeting Monday, Hamilton Vice Mayor Eric Pohlman, a new representative to the transportation board, asked, “What’s a for-real date this thing could actually be built — 10, 20, 30 years down the road?”

How quickly the project can win federal money will be a major factor in a timeline, Corey said, adding: “I would not give it the 20-, 30-year marks, unless there’s no funds. The 10-year mark is somewhat pretty far-out-there too. I feel like we can be stating something tighter than that.”

“I know we need it bad,” Pohlman said. “We need it over there for the Spooky Nook.”

The alignment chosen for North Hamilton Crossing will be one that complements both the need to replace the bridge along with the highway, Corey said.

ExploreRELATED: Officials say Spooky Nook will benefit locals, not just travelers

The county panel on Monday voted to sign an intergovernmental agreement with Hamilton to advance the project. Under the pact, the county will take the lead in overseeing the project’s Phase I.

That phase includes developing a feasibility study, preliminary engineering and cost estimates through processes required by the Ohio Department of Transportation and federal transportation officials to win state and federal funding.

Cost of the Phase I will be about $1 million, with $750,000 coming from the city and $250,000 from the county transportation district. Hamilton has applied for a $2.8 million federal BUILD grant toward work on the highway.

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“One of the early identified purposes and needs (of the project) as we see it is to replace the Black Street Bridge and provide mobility and accessibility to some of the economic-development elements that are happening on the west side of Hamilton,” Corey said.

The project also has a more regional need because it would help people drive more easily from Oxford and other parts of northwestern Butler County reach Interstate 75 via Ohio 129, Corey said.

In evaluating the project, which may connect with Ohio 129 near Hampshire Drive, “multiple alignments are going to be looked at,” Corey said. “Each alignment will have different costs, and costs may be driving some of this decision, as well as mobility — some alignments may be cheaper, but are less regional in nature.”

“Regional solution and a cost-effective manner is why we’re going to be looking at multiple alignments to find a sweet spot between value, regionalism, accessibility and replacing Black Street Bridge” Corey said. “This kind of magnitude of project deserves a heavy dose of alignments and consideration ahead of picking a preferred alternative and moving forward.”

Corey joined the Butler County district on Jan. 20, after working for Warren County’s counterpart since 2011.