This trail would connect the historic, planned village of Mariemont to the high-employment areas near Pill Hill by using a disused railroad right-of-way. In theory, this would be the first bike trail in the area that could be considered a "commuter" trail as opposed to the growing network of primarily recreational bike trails in and around our fine city.
As an idea, this sounds pretty good. I like bike trails. I used them a lot when I cycled frequently. Still do use them when I get out on the bike these days, which isn't often enough. I've even toyed with the idea of cycling to work on nicer days. It's only seven miles or so. And where I live, I actually could use part of the proposed trail.
But I still oppose the plan...at least as it stands at the moment.
First and foremost is the extremely unclear costs involved: $11 million to about $40 million. Even the $11 million is a lot of money for a city with budget issues. Especially when bikes have the legal right to use existing roads, making all trails and dedicated lanes a luxury, not a necessity.
Second, the $40 million figure envisions building the bike trail with its own bridges so that someday the route also could be used for a light rail project -- of truly epic public cost. We're talking billions for THAT boondoggle -- and the electronic rip-off of taxpayers who are unlucky enough to not live along I-71.
Third, the city's crappy streets need the money first. Duke Energy has done murder to nearly every roadway in the city as it installs updated gas lines to many, many residences. The work may be needed, but they have done so in utter non-coordination with the city's street repaving schedule. And they have done a terrible job of patching the holes and trenches they carved into the streets.
Hundreds of thousands of people in every neighborhood across the city use the city's streets -- and the county roads and the state routes -- every day. A few hundred intrepid bike commuters MIGHT use the new bike trail, when it isn't raining or snowing or too dark to see. So where should the city spend $11 to $40 million first? Where should the federal and/or state transportation grants go first? Where should the attention of our city leaders and the time of our city staff be spent first?
How many hundreds of streets have been ripped up by Duke? I have no idea. But I do know how many streets were scheduled for rehabbing in 2014 by the city: 20. That's nowhere near good enough.
According to scattered items available online, including this story, the city spends about $10 million on street rehab a year. This cost is not limited strictly to the road resurfacing, but also includes curb and sidewalk repairs. (And as I understand it, this also doesn't count temporary pothole patching).
The city used to promise to repave 100 miles of streets a year. And that was BEFORE the Duke disaster. Two years ago, the city council cut the promise to roughly 70 miles a year.
I don't know why the city has done such a terrible job with the streets. Is it ignorance? Is it the lack of shiny new things to take credit for? Is it arcane legal BS between utilities and municipalities? Or all of the above?
All I know is that I don't care about any of it -- except for seeing the damaged streets repaired. Right now. I'm sick of steel plates, bad patch jobs and silence.