Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wasson Way Project

Tonight, I come away extremely excited about the transformation my neighborhood and city is about to take in the direction of awesomeness. There is a ton of work to do yet, but after Susie organized tonight's guided tour with some of the leaders, it feels inevitable that the underdogs that dreamed up the Wasson Way Project will successfully build a key 6.5 mile stretch of bike trail down the street from me, linking Xavier University to the Little Miami Scenic Trail through our neighborhood.
Me. Trespassing.

This means over 120,000 residents will have easy access to over 100 miles of gorgeous, safe, fun, and functional bike path. That means that the 4,000 residents within 1,000 feet of the path can expect their property values to go up by $9,000. That's $36 million! It also means that over 10,000 pedestrians per summer weekend will be injecting local businesses with new life and new opportunities. That means my community essentially becomes beachfront property. It also means that Cincinnati is one step closer to becoming the coolest bike town in the Midwest!
We had over 30 people for the 3 mile tour to Red Bank overpass.

The challenge for traditional economists is putting a dollar value on these kinds of social welfare projects. But if you ask a person (or conduct a study) about what makes them happy, it is the quality of life that matters and connections. Then economists come in and find a proxy for quality and try to quantify it, at which point, the quality is no longer a quality, but a quantity. But just for a moment, let us think of ways in which the Wasson Way Project could bring value to the community, and not just hypothetical real estate price increases. How would you put a price tag on the following benefits?
-interactions with their neighbors-- fostering a spirit of reciprocity and connectedness
-experiencing other neighborhoods-- quite literally walking in new people's shoes
-being active and healthy-- spending less time sedentary, depressed, and medicated
-spending less money on gas and less time in polluted traffic jams- one of the biggest causes of people's stress
-decompressing from work on a bike ride home rather than coming home agitated and ornery and bent on divorce
-dollars circulated locally with opportunities for local tourism
-more people feeling safe on their bikes/rollerblades/scooters/etc and learning to love playing again
 -closeness to nature and some of the city's best natural assets.
My happy wife Susie striking a pose beneath the Marburg Ave bridge (my street!)

From the Wasson Way Facebook site, I ripped the following self-description of the project:

Did you know there are 6.5 miles of unused railroad tracks running through some of the most popular parks, residential and shopping areas in Cincinnati...?

The Wasson Road railroad tracks - the tracks running through Xavier, past Buskens and the Hyde Park Kroger - span the neighborhoods of Evanston, Norwood, Hyde Park, Oakley, Mt Lookout, Fairfax, and Mariemont. The trail begins at Xavier Univers...
ity, passes by Withrow High School, Rookwood Pavilion, Hyde Park Plaza, Ault Park, and ends at the beginning of the 78 mile Little Miami Bike Trail. You can go all the way to Dayton, OH or Urbana, OH on this trail! In the future, it will also connect to Cincinnati's riverfront via the Ohio River Way Trail (which is under construction and also needs your support!). (

Please note that these tracks still belong to the railroad company, but they haven't been used for over two years. We are a group of volunteers supporting the transformation of this right-of-way into a bike and pedestrian path. We hope you will join our efforts! The first step you can take towards supporting us is by becoming our Facebook fan!


One of the more exciting factoids I learned tonight was that the City of Cincinnati owns a critical stretch of railroad that basically links Detroit with several key auto-part manufacturing towns to Chattanooga, TN. It leases this track to Norfolk Southern for the price of $15,000,000 per year. This seems like a hefty incentive for Norfolk Southern to make Cincinnati happy by granting the right of way for Wasson Way, so that Cincinnati can make Norfolk Southern happy with cheaper rent to Chattanooga. 

Ault Park Trestle could be the sweetest part of the path. It almost looks like part of The Beast roller coaster without the tunnel.
There's the greatest roller coaster tunnel of all time.

No comments:

Post a Comment