NEWPORT, Ky. — Two Newport legs of the Riverfront Commons Pathway – a pair of elevated walkways connecting the urban trail to the Taylor-Southgate Bridge and Newport on the Levee – were formally dedicated Saturday morning during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the pedestrian bridges.
Conceived and spear-headed by Southbank Partners, Riverfront Commons is an 11.5-mile walking/biking path that runs along the Ohio River and links all Northern Kentucky’s river cities – Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton and Fort Thomas. The pedestrian bridges connect on the east and west sides of the Taylor-Southgate Bridge, an Ohio River span that links the downtowns of Newport and Cincinnati. Southbank Partners promotes and manages economic development in Northern Kentucky’s river cities, including Silver Grove.
“Today is a testament on what can be accomplished when public officials get together and work together on a common project,” said Roger Peterman, a Southbank board member and chairman of the Riverfront Commons Committee. “This project stands for what Riverfront Commons is all about – making it easier for people to access and enjoy all that our great river cities have to offer.”
In addition to Southbank Partners, the $1.2 million project – completed by Sunesis Construction of West Chester, Ohio – was also supported by the cty of Newport, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), the Kentucky Transportation Department and Newport on the Levee.
“This is an historic day in the city of Newport,” said Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso. “This is a project that was more than 20 years in the making. I applaud and thank Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland, the Southbank Board and the Southbank’s founders for having the vision to conceive Riverfront Commons and the tenacity to see it through.
“Riverfront Commons has already proven to be successful in attracting visitors, residents and economic development to our communities,” Peluso said. “It’s a great marketing tool, and these pedestrian bridges make it even better.”
The city of Newport provided $275,000 for the project, but the bulk of the funding – more than $1 million in federal funds – came through a grant from OKI.
“OKI has enjoyed a long partnership with Southbank Partners and the City of Newport, and we were honored to provide funding for this outstanding project,” said OKI CEO Mark Policinski. “The Riverfront Commons pedestrian bridges will improve connectivity, encourage walkability and enhance the tremendous riverfront development that is taking place throughout the river cities, including the tremendous rebirth of Newport on the Levee.”
Just moments after the Riverfront Commons project was dedicated, Newport on the Levee cut the ribbon on Bridgeview Box Park, a family-friendly attraction that includes eight local retailers, bars and eateries. The park is part of the major redevelopment of the Levee by its new owners, Cincinnati-based North American Properties.
“Connectivity will be a huge key to the success of the redevelopment of Newport on the Levee,” said Northern American Properties Managing Partner Tim Perry, who also serves on the Newport Southbank Bridge Board of Directors. “These new pedestrian bridges will make it easier for people to get to the Levee by walking, biking or running. We were honored to part of the effort that made this project a reality..”
Peterman also thanked Bob Yeager, chief district engineer in the Northern Kentucky office of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and his predecessor, Rob Hans, for “supporting and believing” in Riverfront Commons.
The Newport City Commission also played a key role. In addition to providing funding, commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the state that allowed the project to move forward.