Thursday, October 19, 2000

Bike-hike trail OK'd; connector dropped

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANDERSON TWP. — A bike and hike trail stretching from Beechmont Avenue to Newtown Road, is back on the drawing board and the Five Mile Connector is off — at least for 20 years.

        The Hamilton County Engineer's office has reached an agreement with township trustees to grant an easement for the trail, which runs across county-owned property.

        County commissioners approved the agreement Wednesday. Township trustees are expected to approve the agreement tonight.

        “It is not a perfect agreement, but it will allow us to go ahead with the trail,” said Russ Jackson, a trustee. “It limits what we can build on the property.”

        Tom Hubbard, deputy county engineer, said the county has no plans to build the four-lane Five Mile Connector, which would have linked the Five Mile Road-Clough Pike intersection with Ohio 32.

        “We are requiring that the trail be built in a way that if we need to build a two-lane highway in the future, we can do it,” Mr. Hubbard said.

        “We think this is a good agreement. We have been working with residents and trustees for several months. We consider a bike and hike trail a transportation facility.”

        A heated dispute developed among commissioners, trustees and residents earlier this year when residents along the proposed trail route learned that dirt would be lifted to be used as fill in the Wolfangle-Clough Pike intersection and that the trail had to be built along an embankment for the four-lane Five Mile connector.

        Tom Caruso of the 2200 Block of Donnington Lane was among the residents who complained.

        He said excavating the dirt was like strip-mining the neighborhood and would destroy property values.

        Wednesday he said the agreement was a compromise and was not everything the residents wanted.

        “In reality, this is probably the best we can get,” Mr. Caruso said.

        The Five Mile Connector was proposed in case the rerouting of Ohio 32, which is part of the Eastern Corridor project, did not relieve the traffic problem.

        “Our decision now is to wait and see how effectively the Eastern Corridor project will relieve traffic,” Mr. Hubbard said.

        Terms of the agreement extend for 20 years and automatically renew for 10 years.

        But the agreement stipulates that the county may build the connector after conducting a public hearing with a 30-day notice.

        Township trustees have approved $500,000 as the township's share of the $1 million trail project. The rest has been matched by the federal government.

        Mr. Jackson said he expects work to begin on the trail within a few weeks.

        The Eastern Corridor is a transportation improvement plan, consisting of expanded highways, added bus routes, a monorail system, widening and rerouting some roads and building several bridges across the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers.

        The corridor will stretch from downtown Cincinnati eastward to Batavia, and from Interstate 471 in Northern Kentucky to Milford. It is planned by the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

        It is still in the planning stages, and construction is not expected to start within the next five years.


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