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Long-delayed plan to extend Central Parkway bike lane to Clifton is back on track

The existing Central Parkway protected bike lane ends here at Marshall Ave.
Becca Costello
The existing Central Parkway protected bike lane ends here at Marshall Ave.

A long-delayed plan to extend the Central Parkway bike lane north to Clifton is back on track. Former Mayor John Cranley's administration redesigned the bike lane as an off-street path that would cost nearly $2 million more.

Council voted this week to go back to the original design of an on-street protected bike lane.

When Council Member Mark Jeffreys took office in January, he immediately asked council to consider a cheaper option more in line with the original plan.

"I think this is the kind of government that we also want," Jeffreys said. "Every one of us, as I said, should be up here looking at, how do we spend our dollars better? And if we identify savings, how can we put those to make them go further?"

The original project was first approved by Council in 2013 as an on-street bike lane and was meant to run from Elm Street to Ludlow, with Phase One going just to Marshall Ave.

Phase 1 was completed in 2014 (not without difficulty) but Phase 2 stalled for years after that. Council finally approved $2.8 million as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget for a much more expensive design: an off-street multi-use path. The money includes a $700,000 grant from the OKI Regional Council.

The cheaper design will cost about $1.8 million less. The savings will be put toward adding a Phase 3 to the project, extending the bike lane into Downtown — west from Elm St. to Eggleston.

"We came in and said we could get twice as much infrastructure for the same dollars if we extend out what is currently there and then extend out along Downtown, which they have done community engagement on," Jeffreys said.

City officials say design work will begin right away. Because Phase 3 involves only local funding, it's possible that section will be complete before Phase 2, which includes the OKI grant funding. Construction on both projects could begin by the end of next year.

The Department of Transportation and Engineering is working on a full update to the city's bike plan, last updated in 2010. The department is collecting public feedback on proposed bike lanes across all 52 neighborhoods this year.

Last week, Council approved spending $400,000 from last year's federal stimulus to design a walking/biking path on the West Side, connecting a few other existing paths. Actual construction will cost millions and is still a few years away.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.