SOUTHERN INDIANA — The last link in a seven-mile trail that will connect Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany is expected to be finished this year.
Clarksville is in its second season of the Lewis and Clark Trail, which when finished will cross a new bridge over Silver Creek into New Albany at the eastern edge of the city. Last year, crews were able to get around 3,000 feet of the base of the trail down, Brian Kaluzny, Clarksville Parks superintendent, said.
Crews also removed the old bridge and started on the piers for the new one. E&B Construction is the contractor on this portion of the project. This year, they'll need to finish another 3,000 or 4,000 feet of trail, build the bridge, create the parking lot and improve the intersection at Bailey and Harrison avenues.
The town previously created other sections of the trail in the last six years — the Levy Trail between the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center and Bailey Avenue, and another from the interpretive center through Ashland Park.
“This just happens to be the last one, the hardest one,” Kaluzny said. Not only does the trail have to cross Silver Creek, but touches both Department of Natural Resources land and flood control land. The section was started in 2007, but archeological studies alone took three years, he said.
But he added that it has been a “great cooperative project.”
Although there are portions of the Ohio River Greenway that still need an official trail, like the few hundred feet in Jeffersonville near Buckhead and Kingfish, the piece crossing Silver Creek between Clarksville and New Albany will mean it will be possible for pedestrians and bikers to traverse all three communities, with access to and from Louisville.
“I think this is going to be unbelievable,” Kaluzny said. “Access to the river is going to be so much better...it's going to help recreational walkers, bicyclists and commuters.”
The Ohio River Greenway Commission was established in 2001, after several years of talks. The project sets out to provide walkability throughout the area, largely along or near the river.
The east end of the trail starts in Jeffersonville next to what was formerly Jeffboat on Market Street, with access here to the river. It continues down the river to Big Four Station, where there will be a trailhead at the Big Four Bridge, before moving into Clarksville's Ashland Park Area.
From there, it will pass the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, the George Rogers Clark Home Site and Indiana State Park and continue along Harrison Avenue and Emery Crossing, crossing Silver Creek into New Albany at the Loop Islands Wetlands at the eastern edge of the city.
It will pass through a forested area with a connecting trail head at 18th Street, continuing to the New Albany Amphitheater at Sixth Street and culminate in a large space for additional recreational activities — boat ramp, picnic area and private development — at 10th Street in New Albany.
New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said in an email that's he's excited for the possibilities the fully connected trail will bring to the city and entire area.
“It's a very exciting time for the City of New Albany,” Gahan said. “Very soon, residents and visitors will be able to walk or bike from downtown New Albany into Clarksville, through to Jeffersonville, and over the Big Four Bridge into Louisville.
“The Ohio River Greenway will provide many healthful opportunities and recreation for people in the metro area to enjoy — we will greatly benefit from its completion.”
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said he too looks forward to the completion and how it will complement all the growth and area improvements.
“We've been working this since day one of coming into office,” Moore said. “This is a project that I think everyone embraces. We've seen our city transition into a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly community. I think this just adds to the appeal.
“We'd love to see the connection complete with the Greenway connecting Jeff, Clarksville and carrying over into New Albany. We love the connection to Louisville. We all have the same goal – we want to connect.”