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Some Cincy council members ready to make one bike trail a priority

Six Cincinnati Council Members are ready to ask city officials to focus their attention on building a bike and walking trail along the Oasis railroad line instead of a similar project along the Ohio River.  

A committee approved the motion Tuesday and the full council could vote on it Wednesday.  

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune spoke at the meeting.  He said many officials want a trail built from downtown to the east side, but he said the city shouldn't limit the work.

“What I’m saying though is to simply limit all of your focus to the Oasis line only is not a policy decision that the county, the county TID (Transportation Improvement District), or OKI support,” Portune said.

Portune also said the city is likely to get more than $4 million in grant money for the Ohio River Trail, and those funds cannot be transferred to another project.  

Supporters of the Oasis bike trail said it can be done cheaper and faster even though it would be built next to an occasionally used railroad line.  

Attorney Jeff Schloemer said that project would be easier for the city in the long run.

“The great advantage to the Oasis trail option is that you have one owner to deal with, SORTA,” Schloemer said.  “When you go along the riverfront there is owner after owner after owner.  Some of which may cooperates, most of which are unlikely.”

The Oasis Line trail connecting Downtown and Lunken Airport could be temporary though.  In the future the area proposed for bikes and pedestrians could return to tracks for passenger rail service.  

But supporters say that's several years down the road and even then they say the right of way is large enough to move the trail.  

Vice Mayor David Mann attempted to amend the motion to let the city move forward on both the Oasis Trail and the Ohio River project.  The committee rejected his proposal.

Council members who support the Oasis Trail said the city has been working on several options for more than a decade and the only thing completed is bicycle lanes on Riverside Drive and Kellogg Avenue.  They said the Oasis Trail has a better chance of moving forward since it has private support.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.