A new system of trails and on-street routes would connect Springboro, Lebanon, Middletown and Monroe, and lead to the Cincinnati Zoo’s new farm in Warren County and the riverfront path running from Springfield to Cincinnati along the Little Miami River.
The Lebanon Turtlecreek Trails Initiative proposes a web of routes leading to more than 330 miles of multi-use paths across the Miami Valley, already billed as the nation’s most extensive continuous network.
On Tuesday, after hearing from the public, the Warren County Regional Planning Commission is expected to refer the plan for final approval by the county commissioners.
So far, county planners said they have heard no opposition.
“The more bike trails we can have, the better, as far as I’m concerned,” said Kathy Hunt, a Lebanon resident who drove to the city’s Miller Ecological Park last week for a walk with her son.
Hunt said she rides her bike several times a week, sometimes to the park, but typically through adjoining neighborhoods, rather than steer onto connecting roads. She applauded local governments anxious to augment the regional system.
“It’s a great resource. I’m happy to see some of the communities are building a lot more of them,” Hunt said.
The initiative’s first priority remains completion of about five miles of trail from downtown Lebanon to the Warren County sports complex proposed as part of the 1,400 acre Union Village planned community along Ohio 741 in Turtlecreek Twp.
The trail would pass Warren County’s Armco Park on the way to the zoo’s farm, wetlands and a cheetah recovery center expected to be built next year near Monroe and the Butler County line.
But the process, begun in January, also resulted in maps charting a web of other routes, one leading from Lebanon along Wilmington Road to Interstate 71.
From Miller Park on the north side of Lebanon, a route would lead users to a new park and one of eight trailheads across from the Tilton Green subdivision in Turtlecreek Twp., following an underground pipeline easement.
“It’s a long-term project for them. They have no formal plans,” said Matt Obringer, the county planner heading the initiative.
Then the route would lead into Red Lion, a crossroads town centered at the intersection of Ohio 741, Ohio 122 and Ohio 123, south of Springboro. Someday the route is to continue up Ohio 741 to Springboro’s SPARC n Go facility, a hub for its local network.
“We heard from leaders from Springboro that they wanted to get more connections to the north,” Obringer said.
From Armco Park, new routes would lead up Union Road to Middletown and past the zoo lands to Monroe and Butler County, as well as to connections and trails in Mason and South Lebanon.
None of the routes has been funded.
The mile of trail around Union Village alone would cost about $350,000, according to a preliminary estimate.
There is state and federal funding, including transportation alternative projects administered by regional planning commissions.
Next spring, the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments will seek applications for $750,000 available in 2020. The initiative plan could help win funds and easement agreements with land owners keep costs down.
The plan also includes nine miles within Lebanon’s city limits, including a section from downtown past the Countryside YMCA and looping back to the Wilmington Road route and I-71.
“The city would only be responsible for trails located inside the corporation boundary, and at this time none of the trail sections have been programmed into the five-year Capital Improvement Program for construction funding,” Deputy City Manager Scott Brunka said via email.
The city’s long-range plan is designed to enable direct connections to existing trails and new ones in the initiative plan.
“The city would like the future trail system in Lebanon to be integrated and coordinated with the regional trail network that is being outlined in this plan,” Brunka added.
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