West of the Colerain Ave. interchange, I-74 follows the
west fork of the Mill Creek into the hills of Mt. Airy Forest, one of the largest
city parks in the United States. The area was logged in the middle
1800s and subsequent erosion made the hillsides unsuitable for farming. Erosion continued, and the city
began acquisition of the land for reforestation in 1911. Most of the park's 1,469 hilly acres were acquired by 1921, and many of
its roads, retaining walls, and shelters were built in the 1930s as part
of New Deal programs.
A view of the partial Montana Rd. interchange from Baltimore Ave. There is no entrance to
west I-74 or exit from I-74 eastbound at this spot.
I-74 Montana Rd. interchange, looking west. [Larry Stulz photo]
View from an office building overlooking the partial Montana Rd. interchange -- Baltimore Ave. and the vantage point of
the above photo can be seen on the right of this photo.
Driving eastbound towards downtown Cincinnati in the I-74 cut through Mt. Airy Forest. The Montana Rd.
interchange is a mile ahead.
That I-74 managed to be routed straight through a public park reflects the pre-environmentalism era in which it was built. Had construction been delayed just a few years, newly formed environmental organizations would have caused delay to the project, and might have even been successful at a scrapping of plans. There does not appear to be a suitable alternate alignment to the southwest around the park, meaning that I-74's descent to the Mill Creek Valley might have been made to the east, between Colerain Ave. and Hamilton Ave. along the proposed alignment of the never-built Colerain Expressway.
2. Northside / Colerain Expressway Interchange
3. Mt. Airty Forest
4. I-74 points west
5. I-74 Extension?
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