It has been a big year for bike trails in Greater Cincinnati, with several major updates to big projects in Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky.
Wade Johnston, of Mount Washington, heads up Tri-State Trails, a nonprofit that works to boost community efforts toward building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. He sees trails as a way to empower those who can't afford to own a car.
"Trails provide an equitable transportation option for those who might not have access to a vehicle," he told WCPO. "They also provide a really unique opportunity to connect our communities, connect our business districts, connect our residential areas to our employment centers, and it's really an economic development tool."
Johnston sees trails as a tool for connecting a region -- neighborhood by neighborhood.
"A lot of the work we're doing is elevating the work of communities to think beyond their jurisdictional footprint and plan to connect with their neighboring communities," he told WCPO.
Johnston is a dedicated bike commuter, and he can be seen often on the city's East Side bike trails, including the Little Miami Scenic Trail. This is where he sees the Tri-State's biggest foot forward over the past year. Funding came in last year for a bridge that would connect the trail to Downtown.
That money and that bridge are both expected to arrive in 2021, Johnston said.
And there's more. Here's a rundown of some of the last year's biggest bike trail updates:
Construction began last fall on the much-anticipated Wasson Way Trail project -- a four-mile mixed-use trail that will connect 10 neighborhoods once completed . The first phase is about a mile, and crews are currently working through Hyde Park.
"That will be an important connection to link some of the East Side neighborhoods to Uptown," Johnston said. "We're really looking forward to pushing the connection to Avondale and Uptown. We think that will provide tremendous utility to connect neighborhoods to the second-largest employment hub."
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The Wasson Way project has seen huge support from the surrounding communities, Johnston said.
"Overall, I've heard overwhelming support for the Wasson Way trail," he said. "Having a safe bike and pedestrian corridor traversing through densely populated residential areas with a lot of commercial nodes, I think, is really going to transform the way that people think about biking in Cincinnati because they'll see how accessible it can be."
Ohio River Trail
The Ohio River Trail winds along the riverfront from Downtown to East End -- for now.
It eventually will connect to Clermont County and beyond, thanks to a cooperation between the city of Cincinnati and Anderson Township, approved late last year .
The two-mile connection initially hit a snag last fall when funding was diverted from the project, prompting Anderson Township, Hamilton County and Interact for Health to kick in additional funds to get the connector built.
Little Miami Scenic Trail bridge
It's a small bridge but a big step, Johnston said.
The Little Miami Scenic Trail is the Tri-State's primary connection to the Ohio-to-Erie Trail, a more-than-300-mile trail wrapping around the entire Buckeye State.
Once built, the bridge will cross the Little Miami River near Lunken Airport, giving bicyclists a dedicated path from downtown Cincinnati to the 80-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Mill Creek Greenway
The latest phase of the Mill Creek Greenway trail wrapped up last year, with the West Fork stretch extending down to Oak Park in the suburb of Wyoming, Ohio.
The Mill Creek Greenway also runs through Cincinnati's West Side , extending from South Cumminsville to Spring Grove Village, with plans to expand the trail down to the riverfront and up through Winton Hills and Carthage.
An 11-mile trail connecting six Northern Kentucky cities is well underway and got two new stretches last year , one along Covington's flood wall and another stretching through Ludlow.
Once completed, the Riverfront Commons trail will connect Ludlow in Kenton County to Fort Thomas in Campbell County.
The West Walk portion of Riverfront Commons in Covington is one of two phases planned for the city. The second phase will include fountains, sculptures and waterfalls.
But because the trail runs along the riverfront, erosion might cause a problem. That's why the Army Corps of Engineers will need to step in to ensure the integrity of the structure.
Licking River Greenway
A bit farther south in Northern Kentucky, the Licking River Greenway and Trails hit a major milestone earlier this month, when a pedestrian and bicycle bridge came in over the 16th Street floodwall in Covington.
Phase one of the Licking River Greenway and Trail was completed in 2014 and saw construction of a paved portion starting just north of Wallace Woods at 21st Street and stretching a half-mile north to Thomas Street.
Phases two and three have begun to extend the paved trail north to Randolph Park at Eighth Street. A fourth phase will tie in with Riverfront Commons.