Calling all cyclists, runners, and all-around trail enthusiasts, get ready to celebrate, the Beechmont Connector will be open soon!
The dedicated pedestrian and cycling bridge connecting the Little Miami Scenic Trail to Armleder Park and downtown Cincinnati via the Lunken Bike Path and the Ohio River Trail, is scheduled to be completed under two months. Once open, the bridge will allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross the river near Lunken Airport, giving bicyclists a dedicated path from Downtown Cincinnati to the nearly 80-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Construction is on schedule, and the trail will be open in time for an October 2 community celebration event at Otto Armleder Park., said Becky Osinski, Regional Planning Coordinator for Great Parks of Hamilton County.
It’s a small — but important — bridge, one poised to have a major impact on local trails and area cyclists.
The Little Miami Scenic Trail – locally known as the Loveland Bike Trail — is perhaps among the best known trails in our area. It knits together various communities along the Little Miami River, from Newtown, Terrace Park and Milford, upwards to Loveland, Morrow and Yellow Springs. Up until now, there has been no bike-friendly way to cross the Little Miami River in Anderson Township to reach adjacent Cincinnati trails.
With the construction of this final link, cyclists and pedestrians will have a dedicated lane on the Beechmont Bridge spanning the Little Miami Scenic River. The improvement means cyclists could someday ride on the Little Miami Trail from the Ohio River all the way to Lake Erie in northern Ohio via the Ohio to Erie Trail, including the 78-mile portion of the trail in southwestern Ohio.
The south side of the 500-foot long Beechmont Bridge will be widened to provide a 14-foot wide hike/bike lane separated from traffic by a concrete barrier with a metal railing, according to Tim Zelek, Great Parks of Hamilton County Chief of Planning. A joint undertaking between Great Parks of Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati, the project also includes a retaining wall underneath the bridge for pedestrian passageway and a tunnel under the westbound Ohio 32 ramp to Beechmont Avenue. In 2016, Great Parks extended the Little Miami Scenic Trail by 3.15 miles to where it currently ends, at Beechmont Avenue and State Route 32.
The project is funded by a $4.3 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Grant (CMAQ), about 80 percent of the project’s total estimated $5.4 million price tag. Great Parks of Hamilton County is securing the remainder of the costs not covered by the federal grant, about $2 million in all, Osinski said. Those funds are being raised through a combination of capital budget funds, State of Ohio capital improvement funds and other planned grant funding requests.
And it’s money well spent. The entrance and exit points of trails can support thriving businesses and can be a boon for community growth, which trails often enhance. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, in 2020 Ohioans spent upwards of $10.6 billion in outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation generated $5.8 billion in wages and salaries in the state. People in communities value these trails and see them as major positives, opting to purchase homes nearby. According to the National Association of Realtors, recent studies confirmed living near trails and greenways will likely raise your property value an average of 3-5% and sometimes even as high as 15%.
As a cyclist, I know the importance of living near these communities along our trails where we gather, play and eat. It improves our quality of life and strengthens our sense of community. If you are interested in purchasing a home for sale near our local trails or elsewhere, call me at 513.702.3419 or email [email protected]
Photo credit: Great Parks of Hamilton County Facebook page