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Another local trail network gets federal boost

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Posted at 3:18 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 15:18:12-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — Federal money keeps pouring in for walking and bicycling trails in the Tri-State.

Uncle Sam’s most recent gift?

In what officials called a “major financial boost,” Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced roughly $4.5 million toward Northern Kentucky’s Riverfront Commons development, which will connect the cities along the river’s southern bank via an 11.5-mile dedicated, mixed-use trail connecting Ludlow to Fort Thomas.

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The city of Covington will receive $3.9 million, while the city of Dayton will receive about $530,000.

The money comes as part of a larger $5.4 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant awarded to the state specifically to improve safety and air quality in Northern Kentucky, Beshear said.

Another CMAQ grant, announced in June, will fund nearly 2 miles of the Ohio River Trail West project, a proposed 12-mile stretch of dedicated, mixed-use trail extending along Ohio’s riverfront from Downtown to Sayler Park. CMAQ funds also went toward Cincinnati Metro's Uptown $6.9 million Uptown Transit Center in Clifton near the University of Cincinnati's campus.

The CMAQ grant announced Tuesday will also provide nearly $1 million for the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky to purchase two hybrid electric/diesel fuel buses.

Southbank Partners, Inc., the developers behind the Riverfront Commons, announced the riverfront revitalization plan in 2012.

Last year, Southbank leaders dedicated a new walking bridge connecting the Purple People Bridge and Newport on the Levee with a portion of walking and biking path positioned atop Newport’s flood wall.

As far as Covington’s portion of the intercity plan, the $3.9 million will go toward the construction of roughly a quarter-mile of trail as well as a walk/bikeway along the base of the flood wall at the riverfront terminus of Greenup Street in the city’s Licking Riverside District. The grant will also cover some of the costs toward enhancing the connections between the Roebling Bridge underpass and the Madison Avenue overlook. Covington’s share will also go toward constructing a bulkhead and grading along the city’s shoreline.

The city of Dayton, certainly one of the smallest of Northern Kentucky’s river cities, might be the most ambitious when it comes to upgrading its riverfront, launching the $400 million Manhattan Harbor residential and commercial development in 2014.

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A group of residents has also approached the city about the possibility of constructing a community pier along a stretch of the shoreline, to mirror work done along The Banks’ riverfront in Cincinnati.

This CMAQ grant will provide funds for approximately 1 mile of bicycle and pedestrian path, including a ramp over Dayton's flood wall, connecting O’Fallon Avenue to near Berry Street.

In 2013, the Riverfront Commons project was awarded $600,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Southbank Partners estimate Riverfront Commons’ economic impact will ring in just shy of $400 million and create nearly 1,200 jobs in the two cities combined.