Building trail connections between small urban cities and rural villages can open doors for active transportation, support economic development, and provide equitable and safe transportation for underserved populations. In this session, learn how two Ohio communities explored alternatives to create trail connections that served local amenities and looked toward future routes to regional trail systems knowing that commuters will bike ten miles or more. Through planning studies, the Village of St Paris, Ohio, and Springfield, Ohio, studied corridors to create phased plans for local trail improvements.
Leveraging abandoned railroad right-of-way, the Village of St. Paris, a rural community of 1,800 residents, studied a 14-mile corridor passing through their village center past a historic Pony Wagon Museum and connecting local school district buildings to the community. The trail extended beyond the village, entering the City of Springfield 10 miles to the east, connecting to the Simon-Kenton Trail system, a 35-mile regional trail through three counties and four cities. The Simon-Kenton Trail ultimately connects to the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a 78.1-mile trail system traveling from Springfield, Ohio, to the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. The western trail extension will extend four miles to connect to a future trail that is under development by the adjacent county and leading into the City of Piqua. Planning efforts utilized drone footage to quickly capture photos and video of the existing rail bed conditions, providing the Village with detailed information to guide their planning process and decisions. With the initial phase moving forward utilizing state capital funding, the Village is focusing on creating a local connection first to encourage active transportation and support a safer route to school for students living within walking and biking distance to the school campuses.
In the City of Springfield, a city of 58,760 residents, the City wanted to explore a trail extension along the western edge of the City to connect to the Simon-Kenton Trail and extend to the Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve, a 91 acre preserve with a series of natural climbing cliffs that have gained national attention from climbers. This potential economic draw created by this preserve and the desire to connect recreators to the businesses in downtown Springfield and to the Simon-Kenton Trail led to the study of a phased trail along abandoned railroad beds, local streets, and existing city properties. The Clark County Park Preserve received Transportation Alternatives funding to move forward with Phase 1 of the Mad River Trail effort, creating a connection between the Preserve and local rural roadways to establish an accessible trail to the Preserve and the climbing cliffs.
Session attendees will learn innovative ways to capture long corridor footage for planning efforts, explore preliminary design strategies to create funding estimates and implementable solutions, understand phasing opportunities to move projects forward, and engagement strategies to address public concern and gain support.