It's not abandoned yet, but the Western Hills Viaduct is crumbling beneath the thousands of cars it carries every day. The City of Cincinnati is planning to spend millions over the next five years, however, for a rehab and/or replacement plan. Sadly, the billions upon billions of dollars being spent on the I-75 Mill Creek Expressway Project and the Brent Spence Bridge Replacement/Rehab Plan don't account for the Viaduct, and barely alter the interchange with I-75 at all. This could be a missed opportunity, but it may be possible for the City to attempt to propose plans for the Viaduct, and take advantage of the massive projects that are forthcoming by extending the bounds of those projects. A new viaduct could be built simultaneously to the massive reconstruction of I-75, and it would improve traffic flow in the grand scheme of the interstate. Doing this would leave the old one disconnected from traffic, and ready for a contemporary alternative use. This is a proposal for just that, a way to use a (soon to be) abandoned, decaying piece of urban infrastructure as something positive, in this case a park:
I won't get into the history too much, because between Jake Mecklenborg at Cincinnati Transit and Sherman Cahal at Bridges & Tunnels, it's written up perfectly, but it's extremely important to note that the Viaduct was built in 1932 and is one of the most architecturally significant bridges in Cincinnati. It's not often a bridge has such character, and the threat of it being demolished caught my attention.
The concept is a simple one. After hundreds of thousands of dollars of research, the city will probably determine it is more viable to replace the Western Hills Viaduct than rehab it. Aside from the fact that it's old and difficult to upkeep, the lanes are too narrow, the sidewalk is a joke, and it fails to meet a number of standards that came about when the interstates were first built (since it was built 30 years prior to any interstate highway). If replacement is the way to go, a little investment could make the historic structure into a destination.
A similar project has been undertaken in New York City, where an aging, defunct elevated freight rail line was converted into a park. The High Line recently opened its first phase to the public, and has become extremely popular.
- Brent Spence Bridge Replacement/Rehab Plan. http://www.brentspencebridgecorridor.com/
- Cahal, Sherman. Bridges & Tunnels http://bridgestunnels.com/index.php?catid=580
- City of Cincinnati Engineers - Bridges. http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/transeng/pages/-6815-/
- The High Line. http://www.thehighline.org/
- I-75 Mill Creek Expressway Project. http://www.i75millcreekexpressway.com/
- Mecklenborg, Jake. Cincinnati Transit http://www.cincinnati-transit.net