What Liberty Twp. is considering to make its busiest areas safer for pedestrians

Liberty Twp. commissioned a feasibility study to ascertain whether it makes sense to make their commercial area more pedestrian friendly. Pictured here is a pedestrian bridge that could go from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital over Ohio 129 to Liberty Center.

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Liberty Twp. commissioned a feasibility study to ascertain whether it makes sense to make their commercial area more pedestrian friendly. Pictured here is a pedestrian bridge that could go from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital over Ohio 129 to Liberty Center.

The Liberty Twp. trustees have taken another step forward in their quest to create a more pedestrian friendly community, authorizing sidewalk studies for Cincinnati Dayton Road and the Liberty Way interchange over the highway.

The trustees approved contracts totalling $35,000 Tuesday to “evaluate the costs, aesthetics, funding sources and schedules” for shared use paths on Cincinnati Dayton Road from Yankee Road to Liberty Way and widening the Liberty Way bridge over Interstate 75 to include shared use paths.

“This is taking it to the next level, because we’ve seen people walking along Cincinnati Dayton Road and it’s a little unsafe to be doing that the way it’s situated now,” Trustee Christine Matacic said. “So we wanted to make it a little bit safer for the people that are walking.”

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The trustees began focusing on walkability several years ago. The first option they took to the in-depth study level was a pedestrian bridge over Ohio 129, connecting Liberty Center and the Children’s Hospital campus.

The cost was estimated at $3.2 million for the bridge, and trustees have been wooing private partners to pay for the naming rights.

Trustee Tom Farrell has taken the lead on recruiting investors, and he said he is still meeting with stakeholders like the hospitals, Liberty Center and others. He said some have said they’ll write a check.

“But they haven’t written them yet,” he said. “They’re very good at saying absolutely, until you say, ‘OK, now it’s time to write (a check).’ That’s what we’re doing now, all the joking is over, all the pre-work is done, now it’s time to see who wants to be a part of this township for the future and who wants to financially be a part of it.”

Farrell has said repeatedly walkability is a necessity.

“According to all of the experts, in order to have a sustainable urban design, with walkability for health, environment and economic benefits, the experts in zoning are saying that the suburb of the future, in order to be sustainable, must have these features,” Farrell said.

Board President Steve Schramm said trustees wanted to move ahead with the new sidewalk studies, especially if they can’t cull support for the bridge.

“If we can’t get the bridge over the top, then let’s at least provide walkability along the roads that are there,” Schramm said. “We’re going to keep pushing the window on that hoping we can find some outside money.”

Unlike the bridge — which trustees vowed will not not be financed with tax dollars — Matacic said she believes the township could get grant money to help pay for the sidewalk projects because there are safety issues involved.

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One of the other walkability options the township studied was a tunnel — a rough estimate is $1.4 million — under Liberty Way connecting the north side to the Voice of America Park across the street in West Chester Twp.

Neil Hughes, president of Southeast Investment Realty, the developer of the $200 million Village North mixed-use development, coming to the intersection of Liberty Way and Butler Warren Road, told the Journal-News previously he knows such a pathway would financially benefit his development so he is interested. County Commissioner Don Dixon also said a tunnel could be worthy of funding.

“We’re a stakeholder and a very interested party,” Hughes said. “We’re interested in having the conversation continue.”

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