Natural aspects of the Greenway that have always been a part of the Indiana waterfront include the Falls of Ohio, which has long been recognized as a unique area for a number of reasons. It is a site of human settlement dating from prehistoric times and is the only land access to the Fall’s and the Devonian era fossil beds. Permanent Settlements in this area of Indiana began in 1778, including George Rogers Clark’s Home Site that is currently occupied by the Town of Clarksville. Settlements began shortly after in Jeffersonville and New Albany.
New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville have independently pursued programs to improve the waterfront through their jurisdiction over a period of years. However government leaders from these communities recognized the need for a more cooperative dialogue in an attempt to promote a more uniform approach to improving the riverfront. The Mayor of Louisville has joined them in these discussions.
The theme of this effort is to provide better access for the public to view and enjoy the seven-mile reach of the Ohio River and its riverfront amenities. The improvements made along this stretch of waterfront are under the Ohio River Greenway. The Ohio River Greenway Project is to create a linear park increasing public access to the riverfront via foot or bike.
Gaining access to the riverfront in New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville is difficult due to the placement of the flood wall and levee system protecting these communities from flooding of the Ohio River. The flood wall and levee system is necessary for protection, however when it was built it did not include the necessary access to allow the communities connectivity to natural resource of the Ohio River and each other. In 2001, portions of the Ohio River Greenway were deemed a Federal Access project, allowing for federal funds to be used toward design and construction of the multiuse path, additional access points, roadways and other eligible improvements. The federally approved portions of the Ohio River Greenway are estimated to cost $42 Million, which will be cost shared 50/50. Federal funding will cover $21 Million and State/Local funding will cost $21 Million. Federal funding will not be used on recreational features or amenities.
The eastern edge of the Greenway begins in Jeffersonville next to Jeffboat. This area provides user-friendly access to the Ohio River. At the upper pool of the McAlpine Dam, the Ohio River is east to navigate by boat and thousands of people frequent to this area on land or by use of the river.
Although Jeffersonville’s segment of the Greenway is the most developed of the three communities, the addition of improved access is needed to allow pedestrians and bicyclists recreational opportunities that do not currently exist.
The Greenway Plan features a multiuse path with close proximity to the river, in fact at some points, right at the river’s edge, starting at Watt Street and Riverside Drive. Plans include public access and renovated dock space. The existing multi-use path from the Terraced Lawn at the foot of Spring Street now has upgraded sidewalk and has been augmented with lighting and landscaped both along the street and rivers edge. The multi-use path will connect to a landing at the base of the Big Four Bridge which is currently under construction, slated to be completed by the end of 2013. This connection will provide direct access to Louisville as part of a cooperative plan by the cities of Louisville and Jeffersonville.
Between the Kennedy (I-65) and Clark Memorial Bridges, the existing restaurants and the Ohio River will border the multi-use path, which will be routed near the water’s edge as well as along the roadway. This segment of the multi-use path will continue westward to a completed segment of the Greenway located in Clarksville, known as Ashland Park. The Greenway Plans also include additional lighting, park benches, renovated boat ramp, and roadway improvements.
Clarksville (Click here to see before and after for Mill Creek Bridge)
The longest segment of the Greenway runs along the Falls of Ohio in Clarksville, which includes wondrous views of the Falls and fossil beds. The Clarksville segment begins its eastern edge at the property edge of Carmen Industries. The multi-use path will continue at the river’s edge and along improved sidewalks along Riverside Drive. The completed multi-use path beginning at Ashland Park offers exquisite views of downtown Louisville at the trailhead west of Worener Avenue. The multi-use path continues through Ashland Park accessing the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center and wildlife trails running from parking areas to the Ohio River. It then continues atop the levee directly behind the Interpretive Center. The completed levee top trail continues to the George Rogers Clark Home Site and Indiana State Park. This is the longest contiguous completed segment of the Ohio River Greenway, accounting for 1.94 Miles. Design work continues on the segment west of George Rogers Clark Cabin. The Mill Creek segment in Clarksville was the first part of the Ohio River Greenway Federal Project. The path will continue along Harrison Avenue and Emory Crossing Road. This path will use and abandoned rail road continuing across Silver Creek to the Loop Island Wetlands in the eastern edge of New Albany’s Greenway segment.
The eastern edge of New Albany’s segment of the Greenway begins at Silver Creek. A new bridge that will allow access from New Albany to Clarksville, for pedestrians, bicyclists and passenger vehicles will provide a direct route along the Ohio River. The multi-use path starts just west of Silver Creek which is highlighted by old growth river forest continuing up the earthen levee behind the Loop Island Wetlands and ends at the 18th Street Trailhead.
The Greenway construction is underway along a route under the historic K & I Bridge. The City is working with rail road officials and Louisville to allow pedestrian and bicycle access across the K&I. This would be the second connector to the Louisville Riverwalk along the Ohio River Greenway. Users will be able to complete a loop trail around the Falls of the Ohio by linkage to the Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville. As the Greenway continues westward from the K & I, it will be bordered to the north by the concrete portion of the floodwall. While this area is very narrow, it has some of the most pristine views of the Ohio River. This segment will connect to the completed segment at the New Albany Amphitheater.
Immediately adjacent to the Greenway Corridor and west of the existing Sixth Street connection, New Albany has plans for a significant downtown revitalization. The City has developed a combination of both public and private investments. Scribner Place, with a natatorium, a new YMCA, and a plaza area are opened directing to the riverfront. The Greenway is an excellent addition to these recreational features.
The Greenway Plan includes additional cuts in the levee to allow free and open access of pedestrians and bicycles to the riverfront and the multi-use path. This additional access will permit greater utilization of the New Albany Amphitheater area. The most western part of the Greenway, extending to West 10th Street, is a wide and underutilized area that will permit additional recreational activities with a new boat ramp, picnic areas and potential private development.