Group seeks more bike trails in Warren County

The new links would expand what is already considered the nation’s longest network

The Lebanon-Turtlecreek Trails Initiative (LTTI) has begun planning what is envisioned as a system of pedestrian and bicycle trails interconnecting not only Lebanon and Turtlecreek Twp., but leading on to Springboro, Monroe and Mason and longer trails leading along the Great and Little Miami rivers.

Lebanon already has a bike trail running from the downtown to the Little Miami trail, which runs south into Hamilton County and north to Springfield.

“No matter where you live, if you can connect with the Little Miami Bike Trail, you connect to the world,” said Steve Wilson, CEO at LCNB Bank, and a member of the committee planning the trail network.

First on the agenda are trails from Lebanon to Armco Park, along Ohio 741, and from the park to land where the Cincinnati Zoo is developing a cheetah recovery center off Ohio 63 in Turtlecreek Twp.

Later plans include connections to Union Village and a sports complex planned within this proposed 1,400 acre development in Turtlecreek Twp, as well as trails past the Miami Valley Gaming racino and into Mason, Springboro and Monroe.

The Miami Valley already claims the longest trail network in the country, more than 330 miles from Miami and Clark counties, south along both rivers into Hamilton and Butler counties. These trails also connect with local networks in Dayton, Xenia and Hamilton.

A U.S. Corps of Engineers study recently offered suggestions for improving the trail and riverfront along the Great Miami River, which is being called Ohio’s Great Corridor.

LTTI network

Earlier this month, the LTTI group held its first meeting. Last week, county staffers briefed the board of commissioners on what they had in mind.

Beyond building the local network, officials looked ahead to when the network completed an east-west connection between the two river trails “linking everybody together,” said Planner Matt Obringer.

County Commissioner Pat South urged the group not to forget horseback users and questioned how the network would be financed.

“The trails are wonderful. How do they get paid for?” she said.

Stan Williams, the county’s director of planning, said the group planned to win grants, alluding to as much as $7 million in trail funding available from the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

Lebanon hub

Lebanon has a plan to develop a trail to its sports complex off Main Street and US 42 and from the complex to Otterbein, Williams said.

“Lebanon could serve as a central hub where trails connect to the existing Lebanon–Countryside YMCA trail (and therefore the Little Miami Trail) and radiate out into all four quadrants of Turtlecreek Township where they would connect to other notable locations such as Armco Park, Otterbein, or Fort Ancient State Memorial Park,” Assistant City Manager Scott Brunka said in an email.

“The plan will likely include the extension of the Lebanon–Countryside YMCA Trail to connect additional city subdivisions and residents to the trail system network,” he said.

Lebanon recently obtained a grant to purchase land along the Ohio 48 Bypass for extension of its local park and trail systems.

East-west connections

Already there is an east-west connection between the two river trails along the Mad River and Creekside trails in Montgomery and Greene counties.

“We have long-range plans for a connector that would cross the south end of Montgomery County, and the Medlar Trail, Austin Pike Path,” according to Kjirsten Frank Hoppe of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

“Some local projects that Centerville/Washington Township Parks and Bellbrook/Sugarcreek Township are working on may eventually combine to make that link,” Frank Hoppe added.

The connections could keep going.

“We also envision a northern connection, called the Ohio-Indiana Trail, roughly parallel to Route 36. The Tecumseh Trail in Darke County and Piqua’s Linear Park Path may someday meet up to get to Union City and cross into Indiana, and local groups are working on the Piqua to Urbana trail options,” she said in an email.

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