PROJECT HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
The Ohio River Greenway is a collaborative effort between the communities of Jeffersonville, Clarksville and New Albany, Indiana to develop an integrated recreational corridor along a 7.5 mile stretch of the Ohio River. Over a period of many years, each community has independently pursued projects to improve their waterfronts. In 1990, the Falls of the Ohio in Clarksville became Indiana’s 20th state park, and an interpretive center devoted to the natural and human history of the Falls area was constructed at the park in 1994. Building on the state park initiative and renewed interest in the River, community leaders recognized the need for collaboration to connect, enhance and promote their riverfronts. Through the Indiana legislature, the Ohio River Greenway Development Commission (Commission) was established and met for the first time in 1994. All three communities, and the counties of Clark and Floyd are represented on the Commission.
In the late 1990s master planning and extensive studies of the 7.5-mile project corridor were completed. Initial funding was obtained for the first segment of the project built in 2000, the Terraced Lawn in Jeffersonville. In order to pursue funding for the remaining segments, the three communities partnered with the Federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain authorization for the “Ohio River Greenway Public Access Project” (the Greenway Project). The Greenway Project is limited to specified “access” features such as trails, bridges, roadway improvements, lighting, levee cuts and bank stabilization.
Since Federal authorization in 2003, 10 additional segments of the Greenway Project have been constructed, including 6.6 miles of new paved multi-use paths, a marina, roadway improvements, two bridges, a new floodwall opening, and the highly-utilized bicycle/pedestrian ramp to the Big 4 Bridge. The project segments have been built by the three local governments, in partnership with the Corps of Engineers or the Indiana Department of Transportation.
With the opening of a major connective feature in late 2018, the new bicycle/pedestrian bridge across Silver Creek between Clarksville and New Albany, the Greenway Project is almost 90% complete. With 6.6 miles of continuous multi-use path separated from the roads, bicyclists can easily move between the three communities to experience the unique attractions and destinations near the Ohio River. The remaining portions of the project area are accessible using shared-use roadway, until the multi-use path can be completed.
A description of the Greenway within each community is provided below, with project features and destinations described proceeding east to west (upstream to downstream).
The Greenway in Jeffersonville lies within a vibrant residential and commercial district that includes historic homes and locally-owned restaurants overlooking the River. Watt Street marks the Greenway’s eastern boundary. Riverside Drive serves as a shared-use route for vehicles and bicycles through this river city.
A marina completed in 2015 includes upgraded boat docks and a walking path along the river’s edge. The marina connects to the Spring Street Overlook and the Terraced Lawn. The Terraced Lawn is an amphitheater that seasonally includes the RiverStage, a floating stage where over 30 free concerts and public events are held annually.
West of the Terraced Lawn, upgraded sidewalks and ramps connecting to a river’s edge multi-use path have been completed to the Kennedy Bridge. In the future, the multi-use path will continue under the Lincoln and Kennedy Bridge’s (I-65) along the Restaurant Row district of Riverside Drive, continuing into the Town of Clarksville at the Clark Memorial Bridge.
The Big Four Connector Ramp spans the Greenway at Mulberry Street, offering bicycle/pedestrian access to the Big Four Bridge and Louisville’s Waterfront Park. The ramp terminates in the heart of Jeffersonville’s downtown historic district, one block away from Spring Street’s numerous shops and restaurants. At the base of the ramp is Big Four Station, Jeffersonville’s award-winning city park that encompasses two city blocks.
The Greenway in Clarksville begins at the Clark Memorial Bridge and is mostly a park-like setting featuring scenic views of the Louisville skyline and the Falls of the Ohio.
A planned multi-use path along Riverside Drive will eventually connect to Jeffersonville at the Clark Memorial Bridge, and extend to the existing path at Ashland Park. Ashland Park offers the best views of downtown Louisville at the trailhead west of Woerner Avenue, which begins the Greenway’s longest contiguous completed path segment. The multi-use path then proceeds past the upper McAlpine Dam and leads to the Greenway’s centerpiece, the Falls of the Ohio State Park and Interpretive Center, where visitors can explore interactive exhibits and Devonian Period fossil beds that date back 390 million years.
From the Interpretive Center, the path is routed on the flood levee which meanders along the state park and Federal wildlife conservation area. The levee path then runs adjacent to Harrison Avenue, where visitors encounter the replica cabin at the George Rogers Clark home site and the best view of the Falls. This historic area is the starting and ending point of the famous Lewis & Clark Expedition. Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Park commemorates the Expedition with interpretive signage and a replica keelboat for kids. A public boat ramp provides access to excellent fishing and canoeing/kayaking within the Falls.
Continuing west, the multi-use path travels through the original Clarksville town site, established in 1783 as the first pioneer settlement in the Northwest Territory. Much of this area is now a wetland forest for wildlife conservation. Deer and turkey crossing the path are common in this area. The path turns north to follow a section of the historic Buffalo Trace before heading west to the bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Silver Creek and into New Albany.
The Greenway in New Albany includes 70 acres of wetland and bottomland forest for hiking, wildlife viewing and exploration, in addition to multi-use paths and a roadway (Water Street) with an extensive riverfront view.
The Greenway begins at Silver Creek, with the multi-use path following an old railroad route bordering the Loop Island Wetlands. Year-round wildlife viewing is popular here, and visitors may take a short walk along an unpaved hiking trail to experience a unique view where Silver Creek joins the Ohio River. The path continues atop the levee to the trailhead at East 18th and Water Street, where vehicles may re-enter the Greenway corridor.
West of 18th Street, the path runs parallel to Water Street and includes views of the K&I Railroad Bridge and McAlpine Locks. Two segments of the path are on boardwalk structures that extend over the riverbank. Pedestrian access through the floodwall at East 10th Street allows Greenway users to travel one block and visit the historic Culbertson Mansion, a restored Second Empire house museum owned by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. This property is on Main Street, with elegantly restored homes in the Mansion Row National Register Historic District.
Further west, the path passes a public boat ramp and the city’s 800-seat amphitheater with its bright yellow bandshell. The amphitheater is host to concerts, plays and various civic events throughout the year. A set of steps at the top of the amphitheater leads to New Albany’s downtown business district.
The river’s edge path currently ends below the Sherman Minton Bridge (I-64). A narrower paved path is also completed on the levee from East 6th Street to the Bridge, providing views of the historic downtown and Scribner Place YMCA. Future plans call for the path at the river’s edge continuing to West 10th Street, marking the Greenway’s western boundary.