Phase III of Riverfront Commons Trail completed and open to public
COVINGTON, Ky. – Cyclists, runners, and walkers are making heavy use of the recently completed 1.5 miles of concrete path added to the Riverfront Commons Trail in Covington that winds along the Ohio River.
The expanded multi-use trail opened to the public in mid-June and begins west of the Brent Spence Bridge and stretches west to Swain Court.
The new path, previously just a gravel trail, is now separated from busy traffic on Mary Ingles Highway, aka Highway Avenue, by a concrete barrier – creating a clear division between the cyclists, runners, and walkers and the passing cars.
“This part of the trail provides a safe route for exiting or entering Covington for all cyclists, runners, or walkers,” said Timothy Knapke, who was Phase III’s project manager with Prus Construction.
Phase III is part of Covington’s 2.7-mile section of Riverfront Commons, the 2006 proposal from the regional agency Southbank Partners to link six river cities with an uninterrupted 11.5-mile path stretching from Fort Thomas to Ludlow.
Phase I, about three-fourths of a mile long, runs from just west of the Madison Overlook (at the foot of Madison Avenue) to the Brent Spence Bridge. Phase II, completed in June 2021, runs from the foot of Greenup Street west to Madison. That phase – often called the “crown jewel” section of the trail – includes Covington Plaza, a 1,350-amphitheater that has hosted theater productions from The Carnegie and various festivals, two concrete paths, and a kayak and canoe launching pad.
Eventually, the western edge of Riverfront Commons will stretch to the Ludlow border with a connection that will enable bikers and walkers to get to Devou Park.
“It’s difficult to convey the magnitude of what Riverfront Commons represents to Covington,” City Manager Ken Smith said. “On its face, it’s a recreational asset. But it also reconnects the Covington public to the region’s defining geographic feature. For too long, Covington hid itself from the Ohio River. Now we’re embracing it and providing more opportunities to access it and appreciate its beauty.”
Knapke, from Prus, said that constructing this portion of the trail presented challenges related to traffic, weather, and the supply chain.
“The biggest challenge for us on this phase was managing the traffic during work hours,” he said. “This road (Highway Avenue) sees a lot of traffic, especially during peak hours.”
Another challenge, he said, was working through the winter months.
“The winter weather slowed the project down and sometimes even stopped it for a while,” he said. “The last challenge was securing material for the job. We had long lead items such as light poles and fencing due to supply chain constraints, and that led to longer delivery dates than anticipated.”
The cost of the Phase III portion of the multi-use trail was just under $1.1 million and funded primarily by federal grants.
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