City finally set to break ground on Wasson Way trail project

CINCINNATI -- Shovels are finally ready to hit the ground on the much-anticipated Wasson Way mixed-use trail.

The groundbreaking comes exactly five months after an initially announced construction start date earlier this year.

Construction will begin on the first phase of the trail, a half-mile stretch between Tamarack Avenue and Madison Road, just a portion of the more than four-mile trail stretching across 10 Cincinnati neighborhoods. 

The plan is to extend it even farther. Organizers hope the project will ultimately reach all the way to the Little Miami Trail. 

The anticipation building up to Wednesday's groundbreaking has been thick: The Wasson Way Trail advocacy group originally hoped for a June 1, 2017 groundbreaking, but that didn't come to fruition.

The city now expects the first phase of the trail project to cost between $1-2 million. The anticipated completion date was by the end of this year, but the current timeline puts completion of Phase 1 in June 2018.

The initial phase, for the most part, will run through Hyde Park, connecting -- among other sites -- Withrow High School, Rookwood Commons and Hyde Park Square. 

The project has not been short on support. Beyond a community coalition to get the trail built, Mayor John Cranley included the Wasson Way project on a short list of projects that would directly benefit from a proposed county-wide parks tax levy, which appeared on the 2016 ballot.

The measure did not win voter approval, but supporters have remained steadfast in bringing the project to fruition. In 2016, the city of Cincinnati committed $12 million to purchase the four miles of right-of-way needed to begin work on the trail -- less than two months after the parks levy measure failed at the polls.

Phase 1 will be followed by three more Stage 1 phases before extension out into other neighborhoods are considered.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.

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