There 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.