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Waste Watch: Step Project a Costly Undertaking

MT. AUBURN, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- After months of work this city project is just a few weeks away from being officially finished and open.

The question is, what's it worth?

The answer might surprise you.  The project we're talking about is the Liberty Hill steps.  Like any other city project -- it's funded with tax dollars...lots of them.

The question this evening is what's a project like this really worth?  Local 12's Rich Jaffe joins us now from the steps with a look at a price tag that may surprise some people.

These steps connect Reading road down at the bottom with Highland avenue up here.

It's an impressive good looking project.  There's even a fancy new guard rail to protect all of this and that's a good thing because this project cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and it's not clear just how many people are ever going to use it.

The Liberty Hill steps will be finished in about three weeks.  The city engineering department got the green light to move ahead with the project in February.

Initially it was supposed to be finished in July, then it was August and now November.

Ed Hatfield works right next door to the steps. He's watched the projects progress every day.

" You ever see anybody use those steps?"  Rich Jaffe asked him.
He replied, "I've never actually witnessed anyone using those steps.  Does that surprise you? They're pretty steep.  I wouldn't use them if I could avoid it. I would drive."

A spokesman for the contractor Ford Development told me this was primarily a "steps" project.  There was a little bit of work done to secure the hillside, and you've got lots of railings but it's all about the steps.  135 new ones as a matter of fact.

The price tag for the job according to City Hall is 634,000 dollars.  That breaks down to a per step price of almost 4,700 dollars a piece.

And if someone thinks that's a lot the Acting City Traffic Engineer Tim Jamison says, "I guess to them I'd say...well I guess city council thinks these are really important.  We think they're important too. We're a transportation department and transportation.  Pedestrians certainly are a huge part of that."

There are lots of steps in Cincinnati, no surprise.  We're a city of hills.  You can even find a number of websites about our steps.

Eric Koenig's a step kind of guy. He lives next to the Main street steps on Sycamore Hill.  "For me it's just a convenient way to get to work.  I don't own a car, haven't since 2006 so they're a convenient way to get from point a to point b."

Eric's even been down the Liberty Hill steps.

So next time you need to get down to Reading Road, perhaps on your way to the casino, take the steps.  You paid for them.

One of the interesting improvements here is a bike lane.  So if you want to take your bike along as you transition from Highland to Reading you can slide it up or down right here near the handrail, nice touch.  In Mt. Auburn Rich Jaffe Local 12 News.

The step advocate group "Spring In Your Steps" is doing a step and neighborhood walking tour through Mt. Auburn and Over The Rhine on October 12th.

This weekend they will also be pitching in to trim up the bushes on the Main street steps, where Eric Koenig lives.

For more information on the group you can click on the red, "Get It" button.

VIDEO here



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