About that footbridge to Music Hall


IMG_8653There are a lot of misconceptions in the online posts I’ve read about the Music Hall bridge that the city now says it will demolish and rebuild over Central Parkway. The elephant in the room that people are missing: There is no easy and safe pathway to the front door of Music Hall on Elm Street if you park behind the building, in the Town Center Garage on Central Parkway.

If the city-owned bridge, which leads from Town Center Garage to Music Hall, is rebuilt, the renovation team is pledging to construct a passageway into Music Hall from the Ballroom entrance on the second level — the new back door.

Here’s yesterday’s story.

Somehow amid expenditures of at least $135 million, planners decided not to provide a rear entrance to Music Hall. This intentional omission adversely affects many of the organizations that make Music Hall their home. People have been deciding not to renew subscriptions or to attend fewer concerts because of inconvenience and pedestrian safety.

rear entrance
For more than 40 years, people could enter through the “Timeline” entrance on Central Parkway.

Those who park in what is also known as CET Garage (because CET and Cincinnati Public Radio have studios there, too) need to find a safe pathway from the corner of Central Parkway and Ezzard Charles to the front door of Music Hall.

bridge span
If the bridge is rebuilt, Music Hall officials have promised a rear entry into the building through the Ballroom, at the end of this span.

Some reality checks:  The issue is NOT about crossing six lanes of traffic. I have done it hundreds of times, sometimes dodging traffic. Problem one is that the crosswalk light at Ezzard Charles is poorly timed. No one can make it all the way across in a single light change– no matter how old you are. (The light at 12th Street, however, is better timed for a pedestrian crossing, so better timing is possible.) And no, having a bridge is not about elitism or somehow being afraid to walk on OTR streets. Good grief.

There is also a problem about finding a safe way into the building. With no back door, people will need to dodge moving cars parking in the small lot adjacent to Music Hall or walk an additional two to four blocks around the building. You can also cut through Grant Street on the south side of Music Hall, but it is torn up with an almost impassable sidewalk. Some people won’t mind doing that, even in bad weather.  Others will not be able to do that.

Can officials create a good walkway to the front door? I have been told that 14th Street will not be a safe passageway, because some of the time, there will be semi trucks loading and unloading in the two loading docks that will be there.

Furthermore, parking will be at a premium after Music Hall reopens. Think of all who will competing for parking in the revitalized OTR now:  The new Shakespeare Theater; a newly renovated Memorial Hall, with its own music series; SCPA, which has two theaters; the soon to be expanded Ensemble Theater on Vine; programming in Washington Park almost every night and a booming restaurant district.

A dedication plaque on Town Center Garage.

The new Washington Park Garage has spaces for 450 cars. (Subscribers can pay for tickets to assure a space.) For comparison, the Town Center Garage is 40 years old and has about 700 spaces. The Corbett Foundation contributed $2 million back in the ’70s to help build the garage.

Here are cost estimates from a previous story about rebuilding the bridge. Now, $1.6 million in private funding has been raised for the effort.



2 thoughts on “About that footbridge to Music Hall

  1. It is not reasonable to ask the taxpayers to invest nearly $2 million dollars to build a skywalk for Music Hall patrons. (That’s that amount that would be needed in addition to the $1.6 million in private donations that have already been secured.)

    If the organizations that use Music Hall value the skywalk so much, why not add $1 or $2 to the cost of each ticket sold, and earmark that money for replacing the skywalk?

    However, I am not convinced that a new skywalk is needed.

    You claim: “There is no easy and safe pathway to the front door of Music Hall on Elm Street if you park behind the building, in the Town Center Garage on Central Parkway.”

    If pedestrian safety is truly the primary concern, a fraction of this amount of money could be spent to upgrade the pedestrian experience between the Town Center (CET) Garage and the front of Music Hall. Well-marked crosswalks could be installed at Central Parkway. Sidewalks could be upgraded and new street lighting added to make pedestrians feel safer. All of this could be done for about 5% of the cost of the skywalk.

    You state that: “14th Street will not be a safe passageway, because some of the time, there will be semi trucks loading and unloading in the two loading docks that will be there.”

    However, trucks will not be loading and unloading at the time of performances.

    What also isn’t being discussed is the condition of the Town Center Garage itself. It is the same age as the deteriorating skywalk. If the skywalk is replaced now, will taxpayers be on the hook to invest tens of millions to replace the garage in a few years?

    The front of Music Hall was just beautifully restored. I would urge Music Hall patrons to park in the Washington Park Garage and enter through this gorgeous main entrance. If it’s full, they can park in the Town Center Garage and walk approximately 2 blocks to the front entrance.


  2. Travis Estelle: I find it a little more than astounding to be lectured by a streetcar advocate on the reasonableness of a $2 million expenditure (the bulk of which is coming from private sources) for a pedestrian bridge and compound it by “…why not add $1 or $2 to the cost of each ticket sold, and earmark that money for replacing the skywalk?”

    The final cost of the streetcar after interest is going to be in the $190 million dollar range. There was no mechanism set up in Cincinnati to fund its construction and operation unlike every other city that has embraced the streetcar concept in the modern era. We sadly stand alone. Where were you when the passage of a special taxing district was needed to pay for the streetcar? MIA like all the others from the December 2013 city council chambers crowd…..

    For 2018 the streetcar is being subsidized by the city to the tune of $4.5 million dollars. The cost of interest alone on the bonds for 2017 was $17 million. The average cost of servicing the bonds for their duration is $5.1 million per year. All of this right out of the city budget.

    So please save your self-righteous newly embraced fiscal indignation for something else. Frankly it comes across as self-centered and overall generally very lame.


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