BY LAWRENCE BUDD – STAFF WRITER
Springboro’s new plan for a citywide trail system is the latest piece in a puzzle mapping one of the country’s largest regional networks.
Already the network includes more than 330 miles of paths for pedestrians and cyclists crisscrossing the Miami Valley, at a price of as much as $50 million, according to officials.
This does not include Springboro’s plan for about a 60-mile network expected to cost more than $1.2 million, approved earlier this month by the city council.
The investments come from local communities, state and federal funds, and other funders. They pay off in quality of life for area residents and draw the kinds of new companies and young, creative professionals seen as keys to driving economic prosperity, officials said.
“It’s an enormous economic development tool,” Springboro City Councilman David Vomacka said on May 16, before an unanimous vote to adopt the multi-year plan.
For example, the Outer Banks of North Carolina reported a 9-1 return on investment in trails and widened shoulders.
“Over time, more and more people are going to be using these trails,” said Charley Bowman, president of Economic Development Services in Kent. Bowman was city manager in Xenia, where a train station building has been redeveloped as a regional hub for crisscrossing trail systems.
“There is definitely a positive return on investment,” Bowman said.
In the Dayton area, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission is coordinating development of a regional network linking Beavercreek, Dayton and Piqua. The Five Rivers Metroparks and a growing list of governments, universities and other interested parties are helping to pay for the network.
The Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Planning Commission is coordinating a similar network, with connections to the Miami Valley, through Lebanon and Middletown in Warren and Butler counties, into northern Kentucky and eastern Indiana.
Today the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District is expected to award a $960,000 contract for Medlar Multi-Use Trail, ultimately designed to run from Austin Boulevard over Interstate 75 to the Great Miami.
By 2018, Dayton plans 22 projects at a cost of $10 million, as well as a new map.
Weather permitting, Brian Markland rides his bike three times a week from home in Englewood to work in Dayton. Markland is one of about 20 members who share space at the Riverscape MetroPark’s bike hub.
On weekends, he and wife Elaine ride for fun, using the hub near the Great Miami River as a place to secure their bikes while downtown or parking in cities around the region with paths or trails for cyclists and pedestrians.
“I’ve taken most of them to their limits,” Markland said.
Kettering is adding to the Iron Horse Trail between Stroop Road and Delco Park, estimated cost $973,000, and working on a connection from Jane Reece Park in Dayton to Stroop.
Late last year, Beaverceek added a plan for facilities, road widening and improvements expanding its network over the next 30 years. Middletown is seeking help funding a $1 million completion of the final 1.4 miles of nine miles of the Little Miami trail in the city.
Springboro plans to connect to the Medlar trail, as well as new ones planned in neighboring Washington Twp. Cyclists in Springboro will be able to ride to bike-friendly Dayton in Montgomery County, Yellow Springs in Greene County and Loveland, straddling Hamilton, Warren and Clermont counties.
“We’re excited for them to adopt this ambitious plan and see it as a good model for other communities in the region,” Kjirsten Frank, a planner for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission said.