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City of Bellevue receives $1.1 million in federal funding for three major infrastructure projects

The City of Bellevue received three federal grants Thursday to build the first-ever section of Riverfront Commons in the city and make needed infrastructure improvements to the pedestrian bridge on Van Voast Street and to five other streets in the city.

The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, which has final authority on federal funding for all surface transportation projects in the region, approved grants Thursday for the following Bellevue projects, the cost of which includes the City’s match:

Bellevue has received three federal grants to build the first-ever section of Riverfront Commons in the city.

• $760,000 to build a 1,200-foot section of Riverfront Commons, a shared-use path along the Ohio River, from near Patchen Avenue to Lafayette Avenue. 

• $216,000 to resurface and make sidewalk improvements on Berry Avenue, Taylor Avenue, Bonnie Leslie Avenue, and Wilson Road. 

• $124,000 to repair and maintain the pedestrian bridge on Van Voast Avenue over the CSX railroad tracks near Bellevue City Hall. 

• Riverfront Commons — a 11.5-mile walking, running, and biking trail along the Ohio River that runs from Ludlow to Fort Thomas — is the signature project of Southbank Partners, an economic development agency for the river cities of Bellevue, Covington, Dayton, Fort Thomas, Newport, and Silver Grove. More than one-half of Riverfront Commons trail has been completed in these cities, but until now, none of the trail had been constructed in Bellevue.

The project, which will cost a total of $950,000, including $190,000 in matching funds from the city, will include a new multi-use path, lighting, fencing, and retaining walls to stabilize the riverbank. The new trail section will run from Patchen Avenue near Buckhead Mountain Grill along the Ohio River behind a parking structure and Harbor Greene condominiums and connect with Lafayette Avenue near Eden Avenue.

“This is an exciting time for us as we continue to watch the pieces of Riverfront Commons come together as we expand the trail into Bellevue for the first time,” said Jack Moreland, president of Southbank Partners. “We are extremely grateful to the City Engineer Mike Yeager and entire City of Bellevue staff and its elected officials for taking this initiative, on its own accord, to pursue funding for this important regional project.”

Bellevue Mayor Charlie Cleves said the new trail section will make it safer for pedestrians, runners, and bikers, who are both Bellevue residents and visitors to the city.

“This new section of Riverfront Commons will take our residents and visitors off of highly traveled roads and parking lots to a scenic trail along the Ohio River where they can safely enjoy our fabulous views of the river and the Cincinnati skyline,” Cleves said.

“This project is an important link to the regional trail system, which will connect with the city’s existing pedestrian trails at the city’s Wiethorn Memorial Beach Park and to the existing Riverfront Commons’ trail sections in both Dayton and Newport.”

Bellevue has received $124,000 to repair and maintain the pedestrian bridge on Van Voast Avenue.

“We are trying to develop the riverfront in Bellevue,” Cleves said, “and the river trail is an important component that should attract more development.”
The city will also spend $270,000, including $54,000 in local funds, to resurface Berry Avenue, Taylor Avenue, Bonnie Leslie Avenue, and Wilson Road and make other infrastructure improvements on this street. This work will include replacing poor sections of sidewalks and curbs, removing some problematic trees, and new street striping.

“Getting OKI approval for this grant was a huge success for the city,” Bellevue City Administrator Frank Warnock said. “Rather than using entirely city funds for this resurfacing/sidewalk project, like we normally do, we were able leverage federal grant money that was available to us through OKI’s Surface Transportation Program for Northern Kentucky, commonly known as ‘SNK’.”

Warnock said the federal SNK program allows the city to undertake the same repair and maintenance work it normally does on its city streets but for only 20 percent of the total cost.

“Only a few streets in our city qualify for the SNK funding, which is based on the roadway classifications,” Warnock said. “The Mayor and I are well aware that a lot of road work needs to be done in the city. We’re doing the best we can with limited resources.

“We worked with our city engineer to create a roadway inventory and a five-year roadway plan, which has allowed our city to plan and budget for projects like this one. Grant funding like SNK allows our city to have the flexibility to spend the money we save on this project for other important infrastructure projects in the city.”

A portion of the pedestrian bridge on Van Voast Street.

The city had been seeking funding for repairs and maintenance of the Van Voast Pedestrian Bridge for several years. The $155,000 project, which includes a $31,000 local match, will consist of high-pressure water blasting, sanding, scaping, priming, and painting of the existing iron trusses. In addition, the existing stairs will be replaced and a bicycle ramp will be constructed to assist bicyclists in pushing their bikes up the stairs. The bridge decking also will be replaced.

“I can see the pedestrian bridge from my office,” Warnock said, “and it gets a lot of use. It seems that many young families enjoy using the bridge. It is an iconic structure in Bellevue. It definitely needs work.

“When I was City Attorney way back in the 1990s, the city obtained a $450,000 grant to refurbish the bridge,” Warnock continued. “There was talk of taking it down at the time, and thanks needs to go out to the elected leaders at the time for saving the bridge.”

City Engineer Mike Yeager said the bridge is one of only two iron pedestrian bridges remaining in the state. “This project is important to the city because of its historical significance and because it is a very heavily traveled pedestrian corridor,” Yeager said.

From City of Bellevue

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