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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Highways for Houses



LocklandHouse_001
- The porch of an abandoned home in the Village of Lockland overlooking nearby Interstate 75. The home will soon be demolished to make room for the highway's widening and sound walls. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.

They built the highways right through the quiet blue collar town. The freeway became the life blood of our economy, the primary mode of transport. And in a village that was once the embodiment of post-war America, it's industrial base faded as a nations's arteries grew clogged. In a new century where the continued increase of highway capacity is being questioned, I-75 is chipping away at Lockland once again.



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- An abandoned residence in Lockland. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.

Lockland is no stranger though to the advances of technology and transportation. It's a place that was born on the banks of a canal. Then the railroads came and then the automobile. The stagnant canal was drained, abandoned and converted into one of the area's first freeways - connecting Cincinnati to Lockland's wartime production industrial core. The bomb was dropped, our enemies surrendered and a victorious America emerged from World War Two with a booming economy and new sense of prosperity. From shining sea to shining sea, new multi-lane interstates began connecting our cities.

In 1941, the completion of the "Wright Highway" on top of what had once been the Miami-Eerie Canal provided a direct path straight into Lockland. Named for the village's Wright Aeronautical factory, the highway delivered an easy path for the thousands of workers manufacturing airplane engines. Today that plant is now the offices of General Electric.

With the passing of the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, the Wright Highway became Interstate 75 as progress expanded it northward. The burgeoning suburban population of Cincinnati and rise of the automobile caused the highway to expand further, adding new lanes to handle the ever increasing traffic. In 1963, the "split" was born when new northbound lanes were constructed, causing the directional lanes of traffic to split around the village of Lockland. The only remaining portion of the Wright Highway that was left, is where  the highway flows down into a valley of concrete retaining walls infamously known as "the trench."

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- "Where the sidewalk ends." Just beyond the trees are the northbound lanes of I-75 that pass directly through the Village of Lockland and severed this sidewalk from the rest of the neighborhood. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.

Cincinnati's highways are different than much of the rest of the nation though. They wind and twist through densely populated hills that surround the metropolis and feature narrow right-of-ways with precariously curved ramps. Yet, the highways had to grow to handle the ever increasing automobile traffic.

Walter Kulash once said that "Trying to cure congestion with more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt." Kulash, a traffic engineer from Orlando, is one of many vocal advocates to have emerged in the 21st century arguing against increasing the lanes of highways. In some parts of the nation, cities are actually removing freeways and seeking out new alternatives. In Ohio though, we're currently sticking with the status quo as the "Thru the Valley" project continues at full pace, set to be completed in the fall.

The project will add four more lanes to I-75 and modernize many of the highway's awkward interchanges while adding sound barriers throughout the highway's path. In Lockland, this means the acquisition of numerous homes - the owners of which received fair market value for their property. Last week, QC/D reader Greg Spahr tipped me off about the Lockland homes currently being vacated and demolished.

LocklandHouse_003
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.

We toured the neighborhood streets that sit just feet from the highway and in some cases overlook it from atop the "trench." A few personal belongings remained scattered about, the addresses were still on the mailboxes and a backhoe loomed nearby on the freshly brought up dirt mound that used to be someone's home.

Through Lockland, the interstate grows again.

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- A bowling ball, one of many personal belonging strewn about the outside of one of the abandoned homes. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


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- Lockland's proximity to I-75. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_006
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


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- Personal belonging outside an abandoned residence. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_008
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_009
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


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- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_011
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


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- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


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- The Lockland Community Garden is in the direct path of demolition. Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_014
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_015
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_016
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_017
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_018
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_019
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_021
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_022
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_023
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_024
- Photograph by Ronny Salerno.


LocklandHouse_025
- From the porch of a soon to be demolished residence. The neighboring highway can be seen in the upper right. - Photograph by Ronny Salerno.

Special thanks to Greg Spahr.

10 comments:

  1. Craig HochscheidJune 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Great post Ronny.

    America's highway system claims more victims. We're spending another $3 Billion to make yet another expansion to a few miles of I75 so suburbanites will have even more lanes to sit in during the rush hour gridlock. A boondoggle of the highest magnitude.

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    Replies
    1. Craig, by your post I assume you NEVER use an interstate highway? Either very impressive or you're unsure how to leave the area in which you live.

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  2. Great story, however the "finished by fall" isn't accurate. The state has stopped buying properties due to funding issues, even though they still need to obtain approx 6 more. The highway portion of the project, which was supposed to start years ago also has not obtained funding. The state hopes to start sometime between 2015-2020 with the 2020 goal being the more realistic date according to the state representatives I've talked to. With that being the case I think it was a poor decision for the state to buy these houses so far in advance which takes away residents and tax base from Lockland

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  3. Well....the way it was presented to us was.........we will give you a fair market value offer for your home. You have the choice of either accepting it or, refusing it. We are making you an early offer buy-out. If you refuse it, your option is to continue residing at your home and whenever we decide to make you another offer..........it won't be anywhere what we are offering you now. That was exactly what we did then........back in March, we took that offer and moved out of Lockland. What other choice did we really have????

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  4. wow ....this was so sad ... :-( I grew up in LOCKLAND,WENT K-12 ,STILL HAVE SEVERAL FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS THAT LIVE IN LOCKLAND ,THIS IS SO SAD TO ME .... HARD TO EVEN LOOK AT ..GUESS I'LL BE TAKING ANOTHER RIDE DOWN THERE REAL SOON..CAUSE YA JUST DON'T KNOW WHATS NEXT ...AS FAR AS CHANGE G
    OES ...:-(

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  5. Thank you for documenting this.

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  6. Navigating 75 will continue to be a nightmare on that section until it is finished. Dealing with the congestion *during* the construction is something I hope I never have to face. Good article!

    - BTK

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  7. I bought my house 18mos prior to getting the first notice of eminent domain in 2009, nothing was disclosed to me prior to my purchase about the future road improvements. March 2013 was my move out without any option to stay nor did I receive "fair market" for my home. Luckily I have a good job and was able to not only find another home but was approved for something more desirable than the "fair market" range I received. What about all the others who were disabled, elderly, fixed income or even worse laid-off? Home Loan approvals are not easy to come by these days and many were forced out of their homes into an apartment. It simply breaks my heart! Additionally, how ruthless and unsympathetic the Village of Lockland was when trying to paying your final water bill.

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  8. The highway giveth, and the highway taketh away...
    Is that High School in the background still in operation??

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  9. Nice job with the photos

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