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$1.5 Million Grant to Lead to Half Completion of Riverfront Commons

Federal transportation grants recently awarded by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) to Covington and Dayton will provide the funding needed to complete one-half of the entire Riverfront Commons walking and biking trail, Southbank Partners’ signature project in the region.

When completed, Riverfront Commons will be an uninterrupted walking, running, and biking trail that runs along the Ohio River and links all of Northern Kentucky’s six river cities – Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, and Fort Thomas.

OKI recently approved applications submitted by Southbank Partners for two Surface Transportation Block Grants. These grants will allow two large sections of the Riverfront Commons to be constructed in Covington and Dayton. Once finished, approximately 6.75 miles of the 11.5-mile trail will be completed, which will include fully completed trail sections in Covington, Newport, and Dayton.

The City of Covington will receive $714,530 in federal funding to construct an eight-foot-wide trail from the terminus of the floodwall on Ky. 8 to River Road in the western part of the city. The City of Dayton will receive $810,665 to construct a third phase and finish the Riverfront Commons project in that city.

This new trail section in Covington will connect to a section of Riverfront Commons that was completed last year between Madison Avenue and the end of the flood wall at Ky. 8 at Western Avenue. This new trail section will run parallel to Ky. 8 for about one-half a mile before veering west along a dedicated but previously undeveloped city street next to the river and will connect with River Road, an improved but sparsely used that runs parallel to the river near Ludlow. This trail section will then connect with another trail section that Ludlow plans to construct next year from near Locust Street to the Ludlow High School football field.

“When completed, the new trail section in Covington will allow bikers and hikers to travel next to the Ohio River on the entire northern edge of that city without having to deal or interact with automobile traffic or other obstacles,” said Jack Moreland, president of Southbank Partners.

“Currently, people using the Riverfront Commons in this part of Covington must traverse an uphill loop around a large hill to connect to the trail in Ludlow. This new section will make the Ludlow-Covington connection much more convenient while providing some of the most stunning views of the river on the entire trail.”

“Slowly but surely, Riverfront Commons is coming together,” Covington City Manager David Johnston said. “It’s a big, complex project with lots of pieces and lots of hurdles, but when it’s finished, it will be a stunning project that links the river cities, provides a lot of recreation opportunities, and serves as both a physical and symbolic gathering place for residents and visitors alike.”

Meanwhile, Johnston said, the City is moving ahead on a critical, more immediate piece of Riverfront Commons between Greenup Street and Madison Avenue that will include a nice trail and a riverfront amphitheater. City officials are in the process of securing permits and are scheduled to seek construction bids before the end of the year.

In Dayton, the grant funding will complete that city’s effort to construct Riverfront Commons along the river’s edge. Dayton City Administrator Michael Giffen said the first two phases of the trail project already have been funded and the grant recently approved by OKI will allow the city to complete the project as planned.

Phase I of trail along the river’s edge in Dayton – construction of about one-half a mile starting at the western border of the city and going east -- is currently being bid out by the city and work on this trail section is expected to begin next spring, Giffen said. Work on the Phase II – construction of about an additional one-quarter of a mile of the trail – expected to start next fall, Giffen said.

“Obtaining funding for the third and final phase of this project is extremely important for our city and the timing couldn’t have been better,” Giffen said.

Developers started construction of a 74-unit apartment building on the west end of Riverfront Commons in Dayton last year and this project is expected to be finished in late spring or summer next year. In addition, another developer broke ground just last week on a 270-unit apartment project near the Manhattan Harbour Yacht Club. This project is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete.

“These developers are excited about the news that the new trail section in Dayton will be completed in roughly the same time frame as their projects,” Giffen said. “As a city, we recognize that Riverfront Commons is an amenity that not only benefits these developers but also all of our residents and others who may want to invest in our community.”   

Because of the time needed to undertake engineering and design work, get regulatory approvals, and construct the trails, it will be approximately two years before these two new trail sections are completed, Moreland said.

“In the meantime, we will continue to seek grants and other funding to complete the final half of the trail system so the entire trail from Ludlow to Fort Thomas is finished,” Moreland said. “When completed, Riverfront Commons will not only connect all six of our river cities but it will also link with existing trail systems in these cities as well their business districts and residential areas, bringing more people and investment to these communities.”

-Staff report
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