Source: Spectrum News
By Casey Weldon
CINCINNATI — After raising $10 million in private funding, Cincinnati is one step – or a very short bike ride – closer to the completion of the first phase of a 34-mile urban trail loop around the region.
What You Need To Know
- P&G, Kroger Health and UDF eached donated $1 million to help construct a 34-mile urban trail
- CROWN aims to safely connect 54 greater Cincinnati neighborhoods via a multi-purpose trail
- The initial goal is to link the Wasson Way, Little Miami Scenic and Ohio River trails and Murray Path
- The effort is led by the organization Tri-State Trails
Procter & Gamble (P&G) joined Kroger Health and UDF as major contributors to the capital campaign put forth by CROWN, which stands for the Cincinnati Riding Or Walking Network. It’s a grassroot effort led by the organization Tri-State Trails.
The three corporations have each committed $1 million to the project as has the Marge and Charles J. Schott Foundation.
Tri-State Trails dubbed those major donors the “CROWN Jewel” partners as their financial contributions will go a long way toward helping to complete the project. The initial goal is to link the Wasson Way, Little Miami Scenic and Ohio River trails and Murray Path, a multi-purpose between Settle Road to Plainville Road along the old trolley line on greater Cincinnati's east side.
In total, more than 450 businesses, foundations and individuals have contributed funds to the project so far, per Tri-State Trails.
“Improving physical connections in our neighborhoods is foundational to improving the health, wealth, and future success of our region,” said Damon Jones, Chief Communications Officer for P&G. “An important part of P&G’s efforts to be a force for good and a force for growth is improving the quality-of-life where we live and work and doing so equitably. The CROWN helps deliver on that mission as it connects disparate communities across Cincinnati with a focus on equitable access to the many health, recreation, and transportation options the region has to offer.”
The proposed CROWN multi-purpose path. (provided: CROWN)
The initial phase of the project will leverage $44 million in public funding and the $10 million in private donations to bring the vision for Cincinnati’s first-ever urban trail loop to fruition by connecting the several key regional trails that are currently noncontiguous. By constructing key connectors between these trails, Tri-State Trails said they will be able to complete the eastern 24-mile portion of the planned CROWN loop.
Once complete, the CROWN will link to 54 communities around Cincinnati. Project partners said that will give them better connectivity to major destinations, like employment centers, universities, business districts, parks and attractions.
In a release, project partners said the multi-use trail will also provide a safe transportation option for discovering the “best the region has to offer.”
“Not only do trails offer a safe recreation and transportation opportunity for families in nearby neighborhoods, they also enhance the quality of life by creating stronger and more connected communities,” said Jan Portman, co-chair of the CROWN Campaign Cabinet. “We believe the CROWN will be a ribbon of positive energy surrounding our Queen City.”
In December 2021, the city of Cincinnati opened the most recent phase of Wasson Way, routing through Ault Park in Hyde Park over a former rail trestle and connecting to the Murray Path at Old Red Bank Road.
The current trail corridor spans 5.6 miles from Xavier University to Mariemont, Ohio. Over the next two years, Wasson Way will extend another 2 miles westward through Xavier’s campus, connecting to the Avondale neighborhood and linking to the Uptown Innovation Corridor at MLK Jr. Drive, which is not far from the University of Cincinnati campus.
Cincinnati City Council member Mark Jeffreys, a former P&G employee, tweeted that the news is “fantastic” for the region. A known bicycle advocate, Jeffreys has already spoken frequently about the city’s need to expand the local bike infrastructure, including expanding the protected bike lane on Central Parkway.
Jeffreys joined Tri-State Trails, other cycling advocates and Mayor Aftab Pureval on a bike ride to Washington Park ahead of the inauguration ceremony for him and Cincinnati’s other newly elected leaders on Jan. 4.
“This is fantastic news! Thank you Procter & Gamble for your continued support in the community. Now, we also need to build out the spokes to the CROWN - protected lanes that connect neighborhoods to it, jobs, shopping & recreation,” tweeted Jeffreys.
Additional federal and state grant funding is being pursued to finish the Ohio River Trail from Lunken Airport to Downtown and to connect the Murray Path from Mariemont to the Little Miami Scenic Trail at Newtown Road.
The CROWN project aims to add an additional 10 miles to its overall plan through additional fundraising and trails. Future efforts will also incorporate the Ohio River Trail West, Mill Creek Greenway Trail, and Canal Bikeway.
The nonprofit effort is led by Tri-State Trails, Wasson Way, and Ohio River Way. It is supported by a public-private partnership that includes the city of Cincinnati, Great Parks of Hamilton County and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.
To learn more or donate, visit www.crowncincinnati.org.