By Tana Weingartner
Trail enthusiasts will gather Monday morning for a ceremonial groundbreaking on the final phase of the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Great Parks of Hamilton County says the half-mile Beechmont Bridge Connector finally ties the popular 78-mile trail from Springfield to Anderson Township into Cincinnati.
Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston is excited.
"We know more people are turning to the trails as a way to stay active and healthy," he says. "This is going to make trails more accessible to a wider audience of people and help people make that choice to walk or to bike more during their daily lives."
The project includes a tunnel under the State Route 32 westbound ramp to Beechmont. It then passes under Beechmont and will cross a new bridge over the Little Miami.
"This project is a huge, complex project, and right now, Beechmont Levee is a big barrier for most people to bike from the Little Miami (Scenic) Trail to downtown Cincinnati," Johnston says, calling it a game-changer for many because it will connect the trail to Otto Armleder Park and the Lunken Trail, and eventually to downtown Cincinnati.
Part of that extension to downtown includes connecting with what's called the CROWN. The Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network officially launched earlier this month. It will be a 34-mile urban loop that also serves as a hub for 600 miles of trails in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
The $7.9 million Beechmont Bridge Connector includes funds from Great Parks along with state and federal matching dollars.
"The Beechmont Bridge Connector represents a major step forward for our regional trail system," says Todd Palmeter, CEO of Great Parks in a release. "For the first time, trail users will be able to continue from the Little Miami Scenic Trail to the Ohio River Trail safely and without disruption. The public showed their support for important trail connections during our Comprehensive Master Plan process, and the Connector has always been a top priority for Great Parks."