News and Tribune

Floyd County

October 31, 2013

Sparking a connection between Clarksville, Jeffersonville

Duke Energy donates $50,000 to greenway project

JEFFERSONVILLE — A plan drafted more than a decade ago finally has some seed money.

The Ohio River Greenway trail project — which received $50,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation on Thursday — is already well under way, but the donation will help push the project toward completion. Clarksville and Jeffersonville received a check to go toward a .7-mile chunk of trail that will connect the two municipalities between Ashland Park, in Clarksville, to under the Kennedy Bridge in Jeffersonville.

The concept is to refurbish the route that runs along Riverside Drive and restaurant row between the two municipalities, and to also create a path that would run right along the banks of the Ohio River for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Jeffersonville and greenway officials have been in discussions with the Ohio River Bridges Project contractor, Walsh Construction, about being able to reuse some of the materials on the construction of a new Interstate 65 downtown corridor, to create the path along the river.

Early estimates put the cost of the .7-mile portion of the project at more than $1 million. Engineering costs alone are estimated at $426,000, but planners won’t know exact costs until the project goes out to bid.

And the $50,000 donated by Duke Energy puts the greenway closer to moving forward on the next step of the project.

“When you look across the river here and you see what Louisville’s done, it’s easy to imagine that continuing over here,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore during a presentation of the donation at Buckhead Mountain Grill restaurant, which overlooks the trail. “This is a project everybody should be excited about.”

Moore added that he has talked to city Engineer Andy Crouch and sometime in the late spring of 2014, the city will be ready to move forward with the project.

Doug Esamann, president of Duke Energy Indiana, said the project met several requirements the foundation looks at when donating money. He said the foundation that donates about $1.8 million annually, in 69 counties throughout Indiana, prioritizes projects that have positive impacts on the environment, provide for economic development or have an educational component. This project met all but the educational component of the project.

“We just think it’s a great and valuable thing for the community,” Esamann said. “We need to create a great community for  employers to look at and go, ‘I want to be here and I want my employees to be here and live in this community,’ and this sort of Ohio River [Greenway] project is going to be a part of that.”

The effort will move forward one of the last sections of the greenway.

Phil Hendershot, chairman of the Greenway Commission, said a three-phase study is near completion on a 1.3 mile stretch of the greenway that would connect the greenway at the Loop Island wetlands and help refurbish a bridge over Silver Creek.

“We are past that hurdle and Clarksville is telling us now it’ll be ready to go to bid on this late summer of 2014,” Hendershot said.

Construction alone for that portion of the project is in the $3 million rage, but once you get across that bridge you would be able to traverse the whole area using existing roadways or multiuse paths, Hendershot said.

With the announcement Thursday, the greenway is closer to connecting New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville. Hendershot added he hopes Duke Energy’s donation will be a springboard for more donations from the private sector to complete the pathway.

 

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