Courtesy of Ohio.gov-ODNR

Courtesy of Ohio.gov-ODNR

The State and National Scenic Little Miami River is in danger from a major new highway that could eventually become an extension of Interstate 74. The proposed Eastern Corridor Highway would extend from I-71 near Fairfax to I-275 in western Clermont County and include an interstate-ready new bridge in an ecologically threatened area of the river.

Sierrans and allies from the communities along the lower reaches of the Little Miami launched a furious campaign in recent weeks to stop the highway which was listed as a priority for funding by the Ohio Department of Transportation. ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) meets March 9th to finalize its funding priorities for 2011-2015.

Segments 2-3 would slice the village of Newtown in half, and Newtown officials expressed their gratitude to the Sierra Club Miami Group for alerting them to the TRAC’s public comment period. “The proposed alignments of the Eastern Corridor would destroy the integrity of our historical village, disrupt and eliminate a huge portion of the village’s tax base, plus add an intolerable amount of pollution to our scenic valley,” wrote Newtown Mayor Curt Cosby in his comments to the TRAC “The advancement of the Eastern Corridor through the Village of Newtown will not solve traffic issues and will only serve to destroy this village.”

Other allies included CABOOM (Citizens Against Blasting On Our Miami) which organized to fight a proposed Martin Marietta limestone mine along the same stretch of the Little Miami River, local organizations which promote sustainability initiatives, and local organizers with The Global Commons.

Segments 1-3 would be extremely expensive to build, because they must be elevated up to 14 feet out of the river’s flood plain. This will greatly increase toxic stormwater runoff into the river in an area where numerous rare, threatened and endangered species live.  

The negative impacts on human health would be even greater. Planners estimate tens of thousands will use the highway every day, greatly increasing ozone and particulate air pollution in an area that contains numerous recreational facilities, homes, schools and churches.

You can send your comments through Gov. Kasich’s Web site http://governor.ohio.gov/ShareYourIdeas.aspx. Let the governor know you don’t want your tax dollars wasted on unnecessary new highways and that investing in mass transit, commuter rail, and hike/bike trails is an investment that protects our health and builds our economy.

You can also send comments by emailing jesse.walls@mail.house.gov, an aide to Rep. Steve Stivers who is Ohio’s representative to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. For more information, contact Chris Curran, Chair of the Miami Group’s Wild & Scenic Committee at currancp@gmail.com.