A nearly unanimous Cincinnati City Council wants to move forward with buying the four miles of railroad right of way needed for the Wasson Way bike trail.
The city has a nearly $12 million purchase agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad. That purchase option expires in July. The deal must be completed by then or the city will have to pay for an extension.
Eight council members have signed a motion to move forward with the purchase. Council Member Amy Murray says timing is important.
“Canadian Pacific has been looking at possibly acquiring Norfolk Southern,” Murray said. “I just feel whatever we’re going to use this for in the future, now’s our opportunity to purchase it. And if we miss the opportunity, I don’t know if it will be gone because we don’t know what’s going to happen if another railroad purchases this.”
Now city administrators are tasked with finding the money to complete the purchase.
The city lost out on a federal TIGER transportation grant for the project. But Transportation and Engineering Director Michael Moore said a state grant has come through.
“We were successful in receiving $500,000 for that,” Moore said. “That will build the first phase, which would basically be from Tamarack Avenue, which is near I-71, and would connect to Madison Road behind Withrow High School.”
The city has also applied for $4.5 million in state capital budget funding.
Besides the $12 million needed in the short-term, the city will need another $19 to $23 million for design and construction.
The work will be done in phases:
- Phase 1—Tamarack to Madison ($980,000-$1,855,000).
- Phase 2—Montgomery to Tamarack ($1,260,000-$2,135,000).
- Phase 3—Madison to Erie ($4,320,000-$5,195,000).
- Phase 4—Erie to Wooster ($6,200,000-$7,075,000).
Eventually the Wasson Way trail would extend from Montgomery Road to Wooster Pike. It could connect portions of Avondale, Evanston, Hyde Park, Oakley and Mt. Lookout.