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Fort Washington Way Reconstruction

Downtown Cincinnati was severed from one of its greatest assets, the Ohio River, by I-71, a congested highway with dangerous traffic patterns. By taking a comprehensive approach to improving the highway, the Ohio Department of Transportation and local officials made possible a new vision for Cincinnati.


Fort Washington Way

The reconstruction dramatically reconfigured I-71 and lowered its profile. The physical barrier between downtown and the riverfront was eliminated by adding overpasses for pedestrians and vehicles, and the visual character of the road was greatly enhanced. All of this was accomplished while increasing capacity for both local and through traffic and reclaiming about 30 acres for mixed-use development downtown.

This massive $320 million undertaking involved the reconstruction and realignment of a complex mixture of freeways, ramps and downtown streets. The project reconnected the central business district with the riverfront and served as a catalyst for urban renewal of the area. It included significant landscaping and urban design enhancements.

A WSP USA led team supported the City of Cincinnati by providing planning, design and construction/program management services. Design features included a new transit center; foundations for a future urban deck to cover the freeway; retaining walls sloped back and faced with precast concrete architectural panels to provide an open feeling; two pedestrian-scale, cable-stayed bridges to visually anchor each end of the corridor; planting strips placed along pedestrian bridges; and two rows of trees lining Second and Third Streets to bring greenery to the urban downtown area. This project was completed on time and within budget on an extremely tight schedule.