Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Final draft of bikeway study before coalition

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

An 80-mile bikeway system connecting the Great and Little Miami River trails in Butler and Warren counties could be completed in five to 10 years.

The Miami 2 Miami Coalition today is expected to review the final draft of a feasibility study that will help community leaders streamline the project.

"I think we're at a watershed point in trail development," said John Heilman, project manager. "Funding has been available, we have coordinated efforts in regional planning and there are a lot of active projects under way."

The $125,000 study - paid for by the coalition and with grants - will be used as a guide in the bikeway system's development.

The coalition was formed two years ago and its members represent local and regional governments, environmental agencies, historical societies, engineering and architectural firms, and transportation and parks departments.

Mr. Heilman is a technical services coordinator for the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), the group that tackles transportation issues and alternatives.

"The health profession also is getting into this big time," he said.

Beyond Butler and Warren counties, communities throughout the Tristate have taken steps to get bike trail systems in place, including Northern Kentucky's Campbell County, Hamilton and Clermont counties in Greater Cincinnati, and in parts of Dearborn County, Ind.

Developers are also a big part of the effort, said Lynn Cain of Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon Inc. in Dayton, Ohio, consulting engineers and architects who helped draft the Miami 2 Miami feasibility study.

Mr. Cain has been involved in more than 100 miles of Ohio bikeway planning and design.

"The network is growing exponentially, and one of the things that's pushing all this is real estate," Mr. Cain said. "National studies done by the homebuilders association verified that homes near trails have a higher property value."

The Miami 2 Miami Coalition will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the West Chester Township Parks and Recreation Office in the Voice of America Park, 8070 Tylersville Road. Telephone: 759-7301.

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