Trail of dreams: EL to submit riverfront trail plans for federal funding
EAST LIVERPOOL — For the first time in a decade, Congress will be provided member-directed federal funding to certain projects within their communities. Mayor Greg Bricker hopes to see East Liverpool on that list.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson is allowed to submit 10 project requests on behalf of his 6th Congressional District, which encompasses 18 counties in eastern and southern Ohio along the Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky borders. Those requests will be forwarded to the House Appropriations Committee from cities, government agencies and non-profits.
According to his congressional website, Johnson is most interested in “shovel ready” infrastructure projects already in development. For information about the community projects’ initiative, visit billjohnson.house.gov/constituentservices/community-project-funding.htm
Back in November, Bricker explained that city officials had commissioned the riverfront trail alignment study –which is still under way –but he believes that this project fits the bill.
“The more shovel-ready the project is, the better chance you have,” he said of the four miles in bicycle and walking trail. That stretch runs from the Point of Beginning on the city’s east end to the city’s downtown through either the old Pennsylvania Avenue or Ohio Avenue.
Bricker admits communities are somewhat under the gun, as the submission deadline is Friday. He explained that potentially the economic impact could be huge for East Liverpool especially if they are able to connect to the Greenway Trail, as this would allow people to bike from the lake to the river.
“The Ohio River is our biggest asset,” he added.
Since taking office in 2020, Bricker explained that he has been trying to work with a developer to create bring a hotel to downtown. “Something like the trail would drive more people to the city (to stay over and eat during their travels),” he said, citing an example like a large trail from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.
Ben McKeeman, who is the project manager assigned to the study for Environmental Design Group, estimated the project could cost anywhere between $5 and $15 million depending on the hillside. He expects that the project could take three years to complete in phases.
Bricker hasn’t forgotten about his wellness center vision. But it had to take a back seat for just a few days as officials scramble to push this to the front of the line to meet the deadline.
“I wish we had the completed feasibility study in hand, but I would rather go down swinging than just go down at all,” Bricker continued, explaining that letters of support from community members will be invaluable, a point reinforced by Johnson on his website.
Letters can either be emailed to Bricker at email@example.com or mailed to him at 126 W. Sixth St., East Liverpool, Ohio 43920. Access to the building is still limited due to the pandemic.
“Thompson Park has been packed with people doing everything from walking to playing tennis. There is definitely a need for more outdoor space, and (officials) want to see that the East Liverpool trail is needed especially after Covid,” Bricker added.