CINCINNATI -- The protected bike lane on Central Parkway -- perennially a point of controversy among city leaders -- continued to stir drama at City Hall this week.
Funding for the beleaguered project remains in question, and it wasn't until one City Council member and WCPO started asking questions that the city decided to take action.
City Council member David Mann submitted a motion dated May 31 that called on the city administration to pursue federal grant money that could help complete the Central Parkway Protected Bike Lane, which has sat unfinished since construction began in 2014.
The Department of Transportation and Engineering can apply for two federal Transportation Alternative grants each year. However, Mann pointed out in his motion that the DOTE only planned to submit one application for the Wasson Way mixed-use trail project, currently under construction.
"It is our understanding that the administration has decided to apply for one grant only for the Wasson Way project," Mann wrote in part in his motion. "This motion demonstrates that there is a majority of City Council that supports a second application for the Central Parkway Bike Lane project and that City Council will do what is reasonably possible to find the matching funds."
In a series of emails obtained by WCPO, DOTE Interim Director Don Gindling wrote on May 29: "Our capital outlook for 2021 and 2022 is pretty dismal we can't squeeze both projects in and I don't want to apply for something we won't be able to accept (sic)."
It turns out there might be more time to find those matching funds than initially thought. In a memo issued Thursday by Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney, the city announced it has until July 1, 2018 to secure any matching funds for the transportation grants. For the Central Parkway bike lane, that would amount to about $125,000.
On March 5, 2018, Clifton's neighborhood council -- Clifton Town Meeting -- wrote a letter expressing the council's support for completing the Central Parkway bike lane. When CTM followed up on that letter earlier this week, that prompted Mann to ask Gindling why the city wasn't applying for any grant money for the project.
WCPO's request for comment from Interim Director Gindling were not directly answered.
The grant money in question -- as much as $750,000 for each project -- would become available in 2021. The grant applications are due Friday, June 1.