Southern Indiana

Jeffersonville will finish its Ohio River Greenway trail with some help from a state grant.

Last week, city officials announced an award of nearly $2.4 million from Indiana’s Next Level Trails program. Jeffersonville is one of 38 communities and non-profit organizations across the state who are receiving a combined $65 million for 77 miles of new trail development.

Jeffersonville’s section of the Greenway currently ends under the Interstate 65 bridges. Officials will use the grant funding to extend the trail 1,900 feet to the west, past the restaurants on Riverside Drive, to the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, also known as the Second Street Bridge.

“That was just something we hadn’t been able to work into our budget with all the other projects that we’ve had over the last 10 years,” said Grants Administrator DeLynn Rutherford. “It had just been put on the backburner. And so now, we’re finally able to do that.”

The Greenway is a nearly eight mile trail that connects Jeffersonville to Clarksville and New Albany. The extension will complete Jeffersonville’s section. Pedestrians and bikers will still have to use a small stretch of Riverside Drive to access Clarksville’s trail in Ashland Park.

Jeffersonville City Council Member Dustin White, whose district includes large portions of the riverfront, said he often hears complaints about the lack of trail access by the restaurants on Riverside Drive.

“When you run or walk down Riverside Drive towards Clarksville, it kind of opens up into gravel around the parking areas, and then you’re in the street until you get over to Ashland Park in Clarksville,” he said. “So it was a good announcement, and it’ll be a good continuation of a great idea.”

White said he’s interested in exploring other trail possibilities in the city, including extending them through the former Jeffboat shipyard and repurposing former railroads.

“People have, I think, an innate desire to be outside and enjoy the outdoors when the weather’s nice,” he said. “And this just highlights what we have to offer. Those who live here can enjoy a better quality of life and those who, for example, live in Louisville or further north can come down and enjoy these different assets on their time off.”

Officials hope to wrap up the Greenway extension by the end of next year.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.