2022-04-11 Mariemont Trolley Line Park-9620

CROWN partners apply for $12M in grant funding for connections

Thursday, June 30, 2022 by Wade Johnston

Although it’s been a few months since we’ve broken ground or cut the ribbon on a new section of the CROWN, Tri-State Trails and our coalition of partners have continued making progress on the 34-mile trail loop.  Collectively, our public-private partnership has secured $350,000 from the Ohio State Capital Budget and applied for $11.65 M in grants in the first half of 2022!

Columbia Connector / Murray Path

If you’ve been to Fifty West Brewing Company in the past year, you’ve probably noticed how the Columbia Connector spur off the Little Miami Scenic Trail abruptly ends at Walton Creek.  Great Parks of Hamilton County built this trail back in 2020 with local funds between the park district and Columbia Township.  Thanks to Great Parks’ leadership, and the critical support of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), who is leading the design through its Eastern Corridor study, the trail will soon connect up to the Mariemont Library.  In June, Great Parks applied for a $2.4 M Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) through OKI Regional Council of Governments to extend the trail 0.6 miles west behind Kroger, across US 50 / Wooster Pike, and terminating at Pocahontas Avenue.  Through our CROWN Capital Campaign, Tri-State Trails will contribute $300,000 toward the match for the grant.

In anticipation of this grant being submitted, the Village of Mariemont took the proactive step to apply for funding to extend the Murray Path another 0.4 miles west in April.  Mariemont asked for a $230,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  If funded, the trail would extend from Pocahontas Avenue to Miami Avenue, which would only leave a short gap to be solved between Miami Avenue and Plainville Road.  The Village is currently preparing a master corridor study to determine the best facility and alignment to make this critical trail connection, which is also supported by $100,000 from the CROWN Capital Campaign.

Wasson Way

Since Wasson Way was completed through Ault Park in December 2021, Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) has begun designing the westward expansion of the CROWN to Evanston, Avondale, and Uptown.  The City has previously been awarded two grants from OKI that will be used to connect the CROWN to the Uptown Innovation Corridor at the intersection of MLK Drive and Reading Road over the next two years.  Phase 6A of the trail is scheduled to begin construction in spring 2023 and will build the trail from Woodburn Avenue to Blair Court.

The CROWN Capital Campaign is supporting Xavier University with $600,000 to build Phase 6B of the trail on XU’s campus from Montgomery Road to Woodburn Avenue so Wasson Way is a cohesive experience all the way to MLK Drive.  This will require two new crosswalks to ensure safe passage of pedestrians and bicyclists over busy roadways.  Thanks to support from partners at the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, Tri-State Trails has secured $350,000 from the Ohio State Capital Budget to install a new crosswalk across Montgomery Road and reconfigure the intersection of Dana Avenue and Idlewild Avenue, which will straighten Idlewild and install a new crosswalk across Dana.  In partnership with the City of Cincinnati, we’ve submitted for another $450,000 grant from SORTA’s Transit Infrastructure Fund to match the state capital grant and complete all the improvements needed.

Little Miami Scenic Trail

We’ve got a paper chain in our office counting down the days until Great Parks finishes the Beechmont Bridge that will connect the Little Miami Scenic Trail to Lunken Airport.  September can’t come soon enough!  Fortunately our partners in Anderson Township and Cincinnati are planning ahead to connect the trail to thousands more households in Anderson and Mt. Washington.  In 2020, Anderson Township secured a $750,000 Transportation Alternatives (TA) grant from OKI to connect the Beechmont Bridge to Elstun Road, which will link Big Ash Brewing and a planned 361-unit, four-story apartment building at the former Skytop Pavilion.

Also in June, the City of Cincinnati submitted for another $570,000 TA grant to OKI to extend the trail along Beechmont Avenue from Elstun Road to Ranchvale Drive.  A standard bike lane currently exists on the uphill side of Beechmont Avenue in this area, but no sidewalk.  The City plans to remove the bike lane, narrow the roadway–which will hopefully calm speeding traffic on Beechmont Avenue–and create a new shared use path.  This will allow for cyclists to ride Beechmont in both directions, separated from vehicular traffic. Both of these projects were identified through ODOT’s Eastern Corridor plan and are now in motion to get built.

Gilbert Arts Connector

The City of Cincinnati is taking a bold step to connect the CROWN trail network into the fabric of the Walnut Hills neighborhood.  In June, the City applied for $8 M in STBG funds to implement a major road calming project that will connect Wasson Way from MLK Drive to downtown.  This project will provide major traffic calming benefits along a wide thoroughfare through the walkable Walnut Hills neighborhood, while making a bikeway connection to Canal Bikeway at Eggleston Avenue.  It will also form a cultural corridor between major institutions and historical sites like the Cincinnati Art Museum, Playhouse in the Park, the new Cincinnati Ballet, Eden Park, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, and more.

We couldn’t be more pleased with the progress our partners are making to connect the CROWN and reach more neighborhoods.  In just a few short years, it will be safe, convenient, and fun for thousands more residents to live an active lifestyle along the trail.  The icing on the cake is Red Bike’s $265,000 TA grant submission to expand the fleet of electric bikes to more neighborhoods!  Fingers crossed that all these grants get funded!

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