Hamilton bike/hike trail gets ramp link to downtown area

A large new ramp now connects Hamilton’s hiking/biking path along the shoreline of the Great Miami River with the city’s new Marcum Park near the RiversEdge amphitheater, and city leaders hope the connection will draw bicyclists and others up from the river to businesses downtown.

The ramp cost $766,000, with Sunesis Construction performing the work. Additional railings soon will be installed at the top of the wall for added safety.

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“It provides a direct connection between the lower trail into the downtown area,” said city Public Works Director Rich Engle. “Before that ramp was constructed, the only access point to come up to the higher ground into the downtown area was between the Fitton Center (for Creative Arts) and the Columbia Bridge.”

That connection wasn’t as convenient for people wanting to reach the downtown area and the park.

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The bike trail now extends upriver to the Rentschler Forest Preserve upriver and east of New Miami, and ultimately will link to the bike trail in Middletown and beyond.

Sarah Hippensteel Hall, manager for watershed partnerships at the Miami Conservancy District, which owns the property where the biking/hiking trail is located, said her organization “is excited that Hamilton has improved access to the river and the bike trail.”

“We know that it’s not just a benefit to Hamilton,” she said. “We see it as a benefit to the region, because having fun, active, exciting things for people to do? That’s what drives economic development.”

“We’re happy when they can make use of our land,” she said. “It’s really multi-purpose: That’s still flood-protection area, but now we’re making it easier for people to enjoy it when it’s not serving its flood-protection purpose. It’s a great recreation asset, too.”

“I think we’re up to about 18 communities along the Great Miami River that are working together to use the river and all of the parks, and the museums, and the great little river towns — everything that’s in those little towns — to promote the region as a whole, to drive tourism.”

“So every time we see just one little ramp,” she added, “that makes the region stronger.”

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Engle said: “This will provide direct access from the trail into the RiversEdge amphitheater, into Marcum Park, into the downtown area, for instance, the retail that has been established, as well as potential retail that’s being considered in that whole area. I’ve been told it’s used quite often.”

Tim Justice, who lives in Hamilton near Badin High School, uses the path for biking about once a week.

The ramp “is nice if you want to come up here and look around, and get a drink of water,” Justice said, while enjoying time in the newly opened Marcum Park on Wednesday. “It’s nice to come up here (above the river) and ride around a little bit.”

“The ramp’s nice — I don’t know if it’s $760,000 worth, but it’s nice, now that it’s done,” he said. “I like it. I’ve used it.”

More storefronts are expected close by at The Marcum project, a collection of apartments and shops that recently broke ground just south of the park and east of the Courtyard by Marriott.

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