Advocates of converting into a bike trail the space on the long-vacated Wasson Way railroad tracks that snake through several healthy residential and business districts gleamed new hope Tuesday when Cincinnati City Council’s Livable Communities Committee passed a resolution to approve the space to be preserved for a public hike-bike path, protect the area using zoning tools and urge city administration to pursue negotiations from transportation company Norfolk-Southern to acquire the Wasson Way right-of-way.
The Wasson Way Project, the group responsible for lobbying for conversion of the abandoned tracks into a recreational bike trail, has spent more than a year working to advocate for the conversion and discuss transferring property rights with Norfolk-Southern.
In May, Norfolk-Southern announced interest in selling the Wasson Way right-of-way, a major advance for bike-hike trail advocates who’ve been hoping to initiate formal negotiations regarding the land since the project idea came about.
Jay Andress, president of the Wasson Way Project, notes that the approved resolution “takes it from a paper project to something with a meaningful asset.”
In the past, the project faced opposition from community members lobbying to for the conversion of the space into a future light rail track, presumably making the land off-limits to everyone until a light rail plan is put in place. Bike trail supporters argued that a light rail could take many years to materialize.
“We will continue to work with people who want to see a light rail — we’re convinced that both a hike-bike trail and a light rail could be developed along that right of way,” Andress says.