More downtown Great Miami River access coming for kayakers

Workers began reshaping a downtown levee in a project that will include a new ramp down the west bank of the Great Miami River. The effort is the latest in a chain of construction designed to reconnect residents with the river.

The new ramp will allow pedestrians and bicyclists easier access to the Great Miami River Trail and provide a safer place for kayakers to exit the water, said Kurt Rinehart, chief engineer for the Miami Conservancy District.

“There are a lot of things that will benefit the residents and visitors to that area as far as a connection to the river and to the bikeway,” he said. “People like to get to the river and this provides a very good opportunity for that.”

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The site is directly behind the Dayton Cultural & RTA Transit Center on Edwin C. Moses Boulevard. Expected to be completed by year’s end, the construction will span about 1,000 feet just south of the West Third Street Bridge to Interstate 75.

“ The goal is to reshape the levee so the river slope is going to be flatter,” Rinehart said. “Right now it’s very steep and inaccessible.”

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Rinehart said the project — to be partially built over a vacated portion of Bank Street — will widen the levee, making it stronger and easier for the Miami Conservancy District to maintain.

The new concrete ramp will also provide more direct access to the river and bikeway for residents on the west side of Dayton, said Carrie Scarff, chief of planning and projects at Five Rivers MetroParks. The new ramp near Wright-Dunbar Village and the Wolf Creek neighborhood will complement a Fifth Street ramp and a yet-to-be built ramp at Great Miami Bouleverd.

“It gives people a take out downstream from the River Run and downtown,” Scarff said.

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Kayakers using Dayton’s new $4.5 million River Run, which opened in May, should find the new downstream ramp a convenient and safe place to take out, Scarff said. So long as space is available, the public can park in the lot at the Dayton Cultural and RTA Center, according to the city.

“With the public parking that’s provided with this access we feel like it will be a prime spot for people who want to come to the river to fish or take out their kayaks, canoes or stand up paddleboards,” Scarff said.

The project comes as a number of groups are examining a 20-year master plan to expand recreation opportunities and economic development around the region’s rivers.

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A $393,000 contract with R.B. Jergens Contractors Inc., for the project covers demolition, new earthwork and ramp construction. A future phase that may include amenities such as a walkway, lighting, benches and swings is not yet funded, according to the Miami Conservancy District.

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