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Newport awarded $2.5 million federal grant for transportation improvements to Festival Park

The City of Newport has been awarded a $2.5 million federal grant from the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) to make improvements to Festival Park, the riverfront venue that is one of Greater Cincinnati’s premiere destinations.

The grant will fund improved transportation connections for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles along Riverfront Commons to public spaces near the Newport riverfront and the city’s major development areas, including the Ovation music venue now under construction, Newport on the Levee, BB Riverboats, and other locations.

Beth Fennell

“Transportation funding spent at Festival Park will improve grading in the park, making it more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists as well as create a scenic overlook, address riverbank stabilization issues, and complete the Riverfront Commons trail in that area of the city,” said Newport City Commissioner Beth Fennell, a member of the OKI Board of Directors and its Executive Committee and a long-time advocate of improving transportation and mobility in the city.

“The City of Newport has enjoyed a long and positive relationship with OKI, which has brought millions of federal transportation dollars to the city for road, sidewalk, and trail improvements, Red Bike stations, and other transportation-improvement projects.”

The city will provide a $607,000 match to the grant, which was announced by OKI earlier today. The engineering firm of Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. worked with Newport Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims on applying for the grant.

The funding is part of a broader plan that calls for a complete overhaul of Festival Park, known for hosting annual festivals, gatherings, and events that include Italianfest, The Great Inland Seafood Fest, Goettafest, and Oktoberfest.

“For many years, Festival Park has been a wonderful asset for the City of Newport,” Sims said. “This project is intended to enhance the riverfront space to provide for ongoing festivals, but also to create a more inviting space for residents and nearby employees to enjoy on a daily basis.

“The bicycle path and roadway proposed at this location will connect to the city’s exciting new developments along the Riverfront, further enhancing Riverfront Commons’ existing assets,” she said.

Southbank Partners is overseeing development of Riverfront Commons, an 11.5-mile walking/biking path that runs along the Ohio River from Ludlow on the west to Fort Thomas on the east and through the cities of Covington, Newport, Dayton and Bellevue. Southbank has been instrumental in working with Newport and its other member cities on securing grant funding from OKI and the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the project, which is more than half complete.

“We are grateful for this grant funding from OKI,” said Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland. “OKI has long history of providing funding for projects in Northern Kentucky’s river cities because we have established a strong track record of accomplishments, which includes prudent management and oversight of grant funding and delivering on the projects we propose.”

“Give credit to the City of Newport, particularly the work done by Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims, for stepping up and obtaining the federal funding needed to make this project — which has been on the books for many years — a reality,” Moreland said.

From City of Newport

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