Construction of final Middletown-Franklin bike path section to start this year

It’s been years in the making and this fall, construction will begin on the final 1.4 miles of the Great Miami River Recreation Trail between Middletown and Franklin.

Franklin City Council recently approved final resolutions to approve its portion of the project, and Middletown City Council followed suit for its section of the $2.48 million bike trail along the north side of Ohio 73.

The new extension will go from the trailhead on Baxter Drive in Franklin to a point about 800 feet east of the traffic light at North Breiel Boulevard in Middletown. The project also includes a 10-foot wide multi-use trail, retaining wall, and storm sewer extensions throughout the route. In addition, there will be the extension of several large diameter storm water culverts under Ohio 73 and installation of concrete barriers to separate bike and motor vehicle traffic.

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Federal funding was programmed in 2016 through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments to cover 80 percent of the costs planned for construction in 2020. However, both cities are required to pay their shares of the project’s costs up front, officials said.

Franklin City Engineer Barry Conway told Franklin council the project will be managed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. He said the project is scheduled to be bid on in May, and the construction work should begin in July 2020 and completed by September 2021.

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Sixty percent of the overall project costs will be covered by Franklin, while Middletown will cover the rest.

According to the resolution, Franklin’s estimated share in local costs will be $249,319. Of that amount, Franklin received a Clean Ohio Trails grant for $175,037 to further offset the city’s share of the project costs.

Middletown’s estimated share of the project is $1.03 million in which $601,480 is covered by an OKI grant and $436,980 in local funds, according to a report from Scott Tadych, city director of public works and utilities.

Tadych said final cost will be based on subsequent bidding and construction. He said the city will either be reimbursed or owe additional upon project completion.

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City officials said all project construction will occur within in existing right of way and no private property will have to be acquired.

Once the connection is finished, people will be able to hike or bike from Middletown to Piqua, city officials said.

During Middletown council’s discussion before voting on the emergency resolution, Mayor Nicole Condrey questioned spending city funds on the bike path project with financial projections indicating the city will have some decreased income tax revenue issues and paying more overtime than anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Condrey said she supported the project, she asked if time-lines could be pushed back.

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Acting City Manager Susan Cohen told Condrey that projects involving federal grants can’t be delayed or canceled, adding the local funds identified for the city’s share are from capital improvement enterprise funds that have already been budgeted and cannot be used for any other purposed or for general fund operations. In addition, ODOT was slated to go out for bids on April 23 for the project.

Monroe is scheduled to complete a 2.4-mile section of the bike path through the Monroe Bicentennial Commons park, the former Americana amusement park that is scheduled for construction in 2022.

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