Butler County looking to fill final gaps in 80-mile-plus bike trail

In a few years, bicyclists may be able to ride 83.4 miles from Waterworks Park in Fairfield north to Piqua on constant bike trails, creating what advocates believe would become a significant tourist attraction.

Yet there are 4.7 miles of proposed trail in Butler County that are the only pieces for which no funding has been found: A 1.6-mile stretch in Lemon Twp. between Trenton and Middletown, and another 3.1-mile gap west of Monroe that extends from Lemon Twp. into Liberty and Fairfield townships.

Officials from various local governments plan to meet soon, perhaps the last week of September, to discuss funding possibilities, and the board of the Butler County Transportation Improvement District on Monday authorized its executive director, David Spinney, to attend the meeting and report back.

“The two pieces we’re talking about, we’re a few years from that,” Spinney said. “But the first step is to do the feasibility study. The scope of things I don’t think is that expensive.

“There’s a lot of support for it. Middletown’s done a lot of work on the bike trail. Monroe is now doing it, basically to complete it within the city limits (a 2.4-mile piece scheduled for 2022 construction).”

As for the remaining 4.7 miles, “I believe it should be a multi-jurisdictional project because it benefits residents all through the area,” Spinney said.

“If those two gaps were filled, that would take you all the way to Piqua, Ohio,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails, based in Cincinnati, which asked the various local officials to meet and discuss funding possibilities. Meanwhile, Fairfield is seeking grant money to extend the trail further downriver to Marsh Park. Ultimately, proponents hope it will extend farther, into Hamilton County.

“I think that it would mean a lot more potential — we already have fantastic potential here — for attracting visitors near and far, but with an unbroken trail that’s so diverse and interesting as the Great Miami River recreation trail already is, it would just be that much more exciting for people,” said Angela Manuszak, special projects coordinator for the Miami Conservancy District, which is advocating for the Great Miami Riverway tourist attraction.

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