Growing the Wasson Way Community

Though still under construction, the Wasson Way Trail already is an integral and significant facet of the communities it spans.

You can see it in the numbers: recent surveys indicate Wasson Way Trail usage was 500 percent higher than expected for Phases 1 and 2. But perhaps the best evidence is along the trail itself: an Artworks’ Mural blooms along the side of a building; Cincinnati Rollergirls’ Skate to Erase Hate drew wheels of every kind; and numerous antiracism banners sow messages of love.

With last month’s groundbreaking for Phase 3 of the Wasson Way Trail, the multi-use trail inches ever closer to Ault Park and the highly-populated residential neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Oakley.

According to Wade Johnston, Executive Director of Tri-State Trails, Phase 3 extends the trail from Madison Road to Marburg Ave. The phase is scheduled to be completed by November or December. “This phase is particularly important because it extends past many residential streets and Hyde Park Plaza. I hope we see people using it to run errands instead of driving for every trip!” he noted.

But the Wasson Way trail goes beyond recreation. It is an economic engine, a catalyst for growth along the line. By connecting communities, you are creating opportunities. Unlike a recreational bike trail, Wasson Way is recognized as a transportation mitigator, meaning it can pull from federal funding sources not open to purely recreational trails. Beyond simply riding bikes, organizers note Wasson Way could ultimately improve congestion and even air quality by getting more cars off the road.

Last year the Wasson Way Project awarded $6 million in federal Surface Transportation Block Grants (STBG) from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) along with an almost $2 million local match. Phases 4 and 5, extending from Marburg Ave east through Ault Park to the Murray Path at Old Red Bank Road, are scheduled to start and finish in 2021, Johnston said.

This is where I live and I am thrilled that my community is next. I already walk my German Shepherd along the unfinished trail in Ault Park and ride my bike along the roughed-in path to Kroger. After years of planning and discussion, it’s incredible to know that we’ll soon be connected.

When complete, Wasson Way will be part of a 100+ mile active transportation network connected by a 34-mile separated trail loop around Cincinnati’s urban core. This Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network (CROWN) system will connect at least 356,000 people in 49 neighborhoods to major destinations like employment centers, schools, parks, retail, recreation, and entertainment, according to Green Umbrella, the non-profit sustainability alliance that oversees Cincinnati’s trail systems.

At the heart of CROWN is a 34-mile trail loop that will link several trails that are currently in development by separate nonprofit organizations or government agencies.  When complete, this unified vision will link existing trails like Little Miami Scenic Trail, Ohio River Trail East, Mill Creek Greenway Trail, Lunken Airport Trail, and Otto Armleder Trail to trails in development like Wasson Way, Oasis Trail, Ohio River Trail West, and Little Duck Creek Trail.

Given the federal funding cycle, the federal monies will not be available for a few years. In the meantime, Wasson Way, City of Cincinnati and OKI officials announced the formation of a grassroots fundraising campaign for CROWN that will leverage state and federal funding to connect Wasson Way to Uptown and the Little Miami Scenic Trail and beyond, Johnston said.

So what exactly are the next steps for the Wasson Way project? How does this grassroots fundraising campaign work? What can you do to help? Tune in next week for the answers.

Along with real estate, cycling is my other passion. If you’re looking to purchase a home along the Wasson Way trail or near any other local trail, call me at 513-702-3419 or email [email protected]

Photo Credit: Wasson Way Project Facebook Page