Thanks to local advocates, area cyclists’ long-time dreams of a bike trail connecting the Little Miami Scenic Trail to downtown are closer to fruition.

Cyclist and Taft Stettinius & Hollister attorney Jeffrey Schloemer became active in the cause three years ago through Leadership Cincinnati, a Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce program that brings together leaders from various industries to adopt community projects. Schloemer is now vice chair for Ohio River Way board of directors, the group responsible for raising the private funds required for project completion.

Schloemer says whether the trail is used as a ‘greenway’ commute to work or as vibrant active recreation for families, increased property values and new housing and business development will follow. “[The bike trail] is a proven advantage in attracting young, talented people to our city,” he says.

The trail currently begins nearly 80 miles north in Springfield, Ohio and extends to the Little Miami Golf Center in Newtown. The new connection will begin there, winding behind homes, crossing the Beechmont Levee and taking a scenic trek along the Little Miami River to Magrish Nature Preserve at Kellogg Avenue. Then, it will go to Lunken Airfield and along the Oasis Railway’s scenic Ohio River views before connecting to Theodore M. Berry Park downtown.

The project will cost approximately $16 million — $12 million in local, state and federal funding has already been earmarked — with $4 million to come from public donations. Fundraising is being driven through Organizers hope the required funding will be in hand by December and that construction can begin in 2010. Completion of the trail could take three to five years.