The $1 million Little Miami Scenic Trail extension project to move the bike trail from Springfield streets and onto to dedicated bike paths is now open to the public.
Local and state leaders were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon near the new path on John Street.
The 78-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail is a paved path that runs between Springfield and Cincinnati, the longest single trail in the 330-mile Miami Valley trail network.
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It’s now entirely on dedicated bike trails with Springfield being the last piece to be completed, Bike Springfield president Mike Groeber said. It’s also the longest paved trail in Ohio and third-longest paved trail in the nation.
The trail extension in Springfield took more than a decade to come to complete.
“We finally got here,” Groeber said.
Previously, the dedicated bike path ended near the Interstate 70 overpass at Springfield-Xenia Road and then cyclists shared the road with cars for about an eighth of a mile until they reached a dedicated path along John St. The trail returned for about a half-mile until Johnny Lytle Avenue, where it shared the road, mostly along Plum Street. The bike path returned at Fair Street.
The old system was scary for cyclists and drivers traveling through the south side, said Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, who lives near the new path.
“It will be safer for all of us,” Copeland said.
In the past, cyclists would often ride the trail until it stopped at Springfield-Xenia Road and turn around. Cyclists will now stay on a dedicated trail through the entire south end of town using the completed 1.2-mile path, Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Chris Schutte said.
It will result in thousands of riders traveling through downtown Springfield annually, he said.
“They will now inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into our local economy by visiting our local restaurants, local shops, staying at our hotels and eating at our restaurants,” Schutte said. “It was a long gestation period, but well worth it.”
Earlier this year, Springfield city commissioners approved an $872,000 contract with Urbana-based J&J Schlaegel for the project. The construction was paid for entirely with money from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
One of the main reasons Springfield resident Edith Trowbridge recently moved to the area is the trail network, she said.
“I used to live in northeast Ohio and it was nice, but I’m closer to my daughters and I love the trail,” Trowbridge said.
The new addition will make it much easier for her to bike to places she frequently visits, including Xenia and Yellow Springs. The trail will also accommodate people who walk or use motorized wheelchairs, Trowbridge said.
“It’s perfect for everybody,” she said.