Inch by inch, bike trails linking up - Cincinnati, Ohio area
Inch by inch, bike trails linking up
By Steve Kemme • • March 21, 2010
The quest to complete a five-mile bike/hike path extension from downtown
Hamilton to the Rentschler Nature Preserve in Fairfield Township has encountered
more snafus than Indiana Jones' search for the Holy Grail.
It's emblematic of bike trails throughout the region - slowly growing, slowly
but surely being linked together.
The roadblocks facing the Hamilton bike path - money and legal and bureaucratic
issues - have been formidable enough to delay the project for nearly 10 years.
But with a recent commitment from the Hamilton Community Foundation to provide
whatever money is needed to finish the extension, the project is moving forward.
Construction will begin next year. The entire extension may be finished in three
It's the key missing link in the Great Miami River Recreation Trail designed to
run from Fairfield to Dayton.
"That's one of the most important pieces in our regional bike trail system,"
said Don Burrell, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana
Regional Council of Governments.
Throughout the region, bike/hike trails are being built with millions of dollars
of public and private money, linking residential areas with parks, schools and
commercial areas and, like the Great Miami River Recreation Trail, connecting
one region with another region. Some are stand-alone bike trails. Others are
part of major trails or link to major trails extending far beyond Greater
Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
"With physical fitness, energy conservation and the green movement, there's
certainly a lot of interest in bike trails," Burrell said.
Cindy Ormsby is looking forward to the construction of the bike trail from
downtown Hamilton to Rentschler, which is close to her house. Ormsby, who works
in downtown Hamilton, often walks the existing trail during her lunch hour.
She doesn't ride her bike on the trail very often because she has to drive to
downtown Hamilton to do it.
"I think it's wonderful that they're going to build the rest of that trail,"
Ormsby said. "It'll be great to take it all the way from where I live to
Gary Jones, of Hamilton, has been riding on the existing bike trail since its
first segment was built in 1989. He welcomes the chance for a longer trail.
"That'll be nice," said Jones, who's 60. "It's real relaxing to ride along the
river. Plus, the doctor says it's good for my heart."
Little by little, work continues to extend the popular Little Miami Scenic Trail
that recently was linked south from Loveland to Newtown and to add pieces to the
Ohio River Trail that is supposed to run from Lunken Airport to downtown
Cincinnati and to New Richmond.
With $2.4 million in federal and local funding, construction will begin in 2013
to extend the Little Miami Trail from the Little Miami Golf Center in Newtown to
Clough Pike. Linking the Little Miami and Ohio River trails by building the
segment from Clough to Beechmont Avenue and across the Little Miami River to
Kellogg Avenue won't occur for several more years, Burrell said.
Cincinnati will be building a trail from Wilmer Street at Lunken Airport to
Carrel Street this year. It will be extended to Congress Street next year.
Although a permanent trail from Lunken Airport to downtown Cincinnati is still
years away, efforts continue to build a temporary bike trail.
In the Mill Creek Valley and in Liberty and West Chester townships, efforts are
under way to have scattered trails connect.
The Ohio River Way, a nonprofit group that sponsors the annual Paddlefest, has
raised about $1.6 million of the $4 million needed to complement the $14 million
in local, state and federal funding for the Ohio River Trail.
A bike trail figures prominently in plans to transform the Mill Creek corridor.
In conjunction with cleaning up the creek and enhancing the corridor's
appearance, the non-profit Mill Creek Restoration Project wants to build a
3.4-mile bike/hike trail from Mitchell Avenue in Spring Grove Village to the
Mill Creek Road Bridge in South Cumminsville.
Last year, the group built a half-mile piece of the trail from Salway Park in
Spring Grove Village to the Dooley Bypass and Ludlow Avenue in Northside. The
rest of the 3.4-mile Queen City-South Mill Creek Greenway Trail will be built
this year and next year.
Longer-term plans envision the extension of the bike trail south to the Ohio
River and north to Butler County. The small piece of the trail that has been
built so far has generated a lot of interest from other Hamilton County
communities, said Robin Corathers, executive director of the Mill Creek
"About 13 suburban communities have called me to ask how to connect to the Mill
Creek Greenway Trail," she said. "It's pretty exciting."
The Miami 2 Miami Trail in Butler and Warren counties is being built in tiny
segments. This east-west trail would run 84 miles and connect with the Great
Miami, the Little Miami and the Mill Creek bike trails.
West Chester Township has created a Connections Plan that includes bike paths
and walking paths.
"We want to have a plan so that when funding opportunities come up, we can take
advantage of them," said Brian Elliff, West Chester's community development
Liberty Township has been prodding developers to include bike paths and walking
paths into their projects.
"We're connecting little pieces of our trail in our southern part that will be
part of the Miami 2 Miami Trail," Liberty Township Trustee Christine Matacic
Clermont County has plans for a bike/hike trail from Batavia to Williamsburg
through East Fork State Park. Last year, a segment from Williamsburg to an
overlook at Harsha Lake in the park was built. The next phase will extend the
trail to the campgrounds in the park.
That's bound to help Williamsburg's economy, Mayor Mary Ann Lefker said.
"That literally will connect us to thousands and thousands of people who camp in
the park," she said.
Northern Kentucky has a lot of enthusiasm for bike trails, but not much money so
far to build them.
Covington, Newport, Wilder and Taylor Mill are working together to create a
greenway and bike trail along the Licking River from the Ohio River to
"A lot of the land that's needed for the greenway is already owned by the
municipalities," said Pat Timm, greenway coordinator of Licking River Greenway
and Trails. "That will make it easier to get started once we get out of this
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