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Riverfront development still on track

Staff report

P

aducah's long-awaited riverfront development project is still slated for completion this fall with various elements undergoing significant work over the last year.

The project aims to transform the Ohio River shoreline into a destination spot and has been in the works for several years.

A mixture of federal, state and local funds made the project possible. The latest phase includes completion of a land mass in the river at Schultz Park and construction of a gangway and floating service dock where passing boaters can take on fuel, water and other supplies, and safely dispose of sewage. This summer, crews worked on constructing new sidewalks and lighting, the transient boat dock and stone steps leading to the water's edge across the completed land mass.

Crews were supposed to have the boat dock installed by September to prevent losing a portion of grant funds slated for the project.

The Paducah City Commission awarded an $8.1 million contract last fall to MAC Construction & Excavating to begin working on the site in December.

High river levels earlier this year caused some delays to the work crews could complete close to the river. But workers compensated by actively completing work at the higher elevation and off-site until they were able to resume work near the river several months ago.

Officials still estimate an early fall completion date for this phase of the project.

The riverfront development project also includes plans to extend a portion of the Greenway Trail downtown.

The trail currently connects two of the city's parks and the Burnett Street boat ramp. It is slated to extend further downtown, crossing through the newly developed Schultz Park.

City officials do not expect to finish the trail at the same time as the rest of the riverfront. Officials have said grant requirements are pushing it back. They expect it will take until next summer to obtain state approvals on the selected engineering firm, design plans and environmental assessment of the site.

Officials expect the bid phase will not kick off until August 2017, with construction estimated to begin sometime at the beginning of 2018.

The trail currently stretches about 4.5 miles from County Park Road west of Stuart Nelson Park to Campbell Street next to the Julian M. Carroll Convention Center.

Crews completed the existing portion of the trail over three phases at a cost of about $2.2 million, $1.2 million of which came from state and federal grant funds.

The city has grant funds for two more phases, beginning with the fourth phase set to extend the trail from Campbell Street, along the riverfront by the convention center, through Schultz Park and ending near Madison and Monroe streets.

The city has a $520,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for phase four. It requires a $130,000 match from the city. The city was first awarded the grant in 2011. Officials planned to use the money to extend the trail through the Perkins Creek Nature Preserve near the west end. In 2014, city leaders instead reallocated the funds to connect the trail to downtown and Schultz Park.

The funds are expected to cover more than a mile of trail pavement. Although the distance from Campbell to Madison and Monroe streets isn't a mile, a large portion of the trail will wrap around the Schultz Park riverfront development.

The fifth phase, which will utilize a $403,000 Transportation Alternative Program grant, will extend the trail from Madison and Monroe streets to Jefferson Street. Plans also include installation of trailhead parking and lighting. There is no time schedule yet for the fifth phase.

The trail leading into downtown ties into a larger plan to add bike lanes on Broadway and Jefferson streets and make traffic changes downtown. The plans aim to make the area more cyclist and pedestrian friendly. That project is moving forward first with a $63,000 traffic study.

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