Anderson gets closer to bike trail to Downtown

Posted at 6:37 AM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 06:37:08-04

ANDERSON TWP., Ohio -- Cincinnati-area runners and cyclists who enjoy the the 75-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail, or at least parts of it, soon will have 3 more miles to savor when an extension is completed in Anderson Township.

But for Anderson Township, this new leg of the regionally popular trail represents more than just a great recreational amenity: In a few years, it will offer residents an alternate way to get as far as downtown Cincinnati.

In tandem with the township’s trails and sidewalks plan, the trail extension will be part of what Anderson city planner Thomas Caruso called “a multimodal transportation system that includes cars and buses but also includes bicycles and pedestrians to get places."

Map courtesy Great Parks of Hamilton County

“A lot of people talk about trails and sidewalks for exercise, and we think that’s very important," Caruso said, explaining the long-term thinking of Anderson planners. "But what we really are interested in is making pedestrian and bicycle connections from homes to destinations or destinations to destinations. And when you do that you also increase the vitality of the community.”

Great Parks of Hamilton County is leading the project, along with Anderson Township and the Ohio Department of Transportation. Anderson provided plans, funding and other legwork. Ground broke on the Little Miami extension July 8, with construction now moving ahead of schedule, Caruso said.

The target date for opening is December of this year, but if work continues at its present pace, Anderson’s portion of the trail could be in use earlier.

"It’ll be done for sure by next spring," said Caruso, who visits the site most work days. "But it could be done sooner than most people may imagine. It just depends on what happens with the weather."

The Little Miami Scenic Trail extension in Anderson Township will eventually give residents an alternate way to get as far as downtown Cincinnati. Photo provided by Anderson Township

In regard to the project's broader state- and regional scope, the overall objective is extension.

"Our goal is to extend the Little Miami Scenic Trail all the way to downtown Cincinnati," said Jack Sutton, director of Great Parks of Hamilton County. "The next link in the chain of networks is the Ohio to Erie trail. The (ultimate) goal is to link Cincinnati to Cleveland.”

Beginning in Newtown, which is the present terminus of the trail from Springfield, Ohio, the 3.2-mile extension will end in Anderson Township at state Route 32 where it meets Beechmont Avenue. But there are plans for building a small bridge crossing the Little Miami to connect the Scenic Trail to the Otto Armleder Memorial Park-Lunken Airport playing field trail, which would lead south to the Ohio River Trail and ultimately to Downtown.

“We (cooperating government agencies) are also working on the Ohio River trail," Caruso said. "We built a mile and a half of that, which is a trail that will go from downtown Cincinnati to New Richmond, Ohio — again, part of the same thing, going from one place to another without having to use your car.

"We see (the Little Miami trail) as a way of getting to downtown Cincinnati for Anderson Township residents.”

As far as local benefits are concerned, a more developed system of bike trails could support what Anderson head planner Paul Drury has described as the township’s long-term goal of having more Anderson residents work in Anderson. And, of course, every town the trail goes through has the potential to benefit from recreational users, exhibit A being the dense crowd of bicycles parked on the median between Julian’s Deli and Paxton’s Grill in historic Loveland on weekends. Anderson's developing downtown area could gain some out-of-town customers.

Planning for the project began about 12 years ago with discussions between the city of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Parks, Great Parks of Hamilton County and Anderson Township. Federal funding came through in 2008 with an FTA Transportation Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant. Anderson Township paid for some of the project’s expenses through a levy that was passed in 1998 for more sidewalks and trails. The state also contributed.

This summer, during the initial phase of construction — what Caruso called “clearing and grubbing,” where trees and brush are removed — workers found arrowheads and broken pottery buried on the site.

“That was expected,” Caruso said, because the area the trail goes through is rich with Native American artifacts.

Whenever ODOT does a project like this, Caruso explained, an archeologist is employed to examine pottery or other finds and make a recommendation on how to handle them. Find a wooly mammoth tusk and work probably stops.

"My understanding is in this case that they reburied them off of the recommendation of the archeologist," Caruso said, referring to the case of the Little Miami trail extension. "They buried it back on site, so it’s protected long-term. So it’s back where it was. It won't be under the trail, and they mark it obviously, what they find. In the future if archeologists are looking, they know there’s something there. … They would have a record of it.

“That’s one of the things that make it expensive (to do a project like this) is you do have to get all those experts involved because you just don’t want to blast through there and just tear everything up. You have to really make sure you take care of anything that’s of significance.”