Scioto Greenways Project

Visit the Scioto Greenways website for more project information, photos, and answers to frequently asked questions.

The Scioto Riverfront in Downtown Columbus has been transformed as a result of hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private developments in the RiverSouth area. But while substantial public and private investments along the Scioto River have created world-class amenities, the river remains a slow-moving, overly wide pool of sediment-laden water due to the presence of low head dams.

The removal of the Main Street Dam will begin to restore the natural river course, improve the ecological systems and river habitat, provide new recreational options, and provide an opportunity to further leverage existing investments by creating a stunning 33-acre greenway through Downtown.

Additionally, the proposed Greenway is surrounded by nearly 100 acres of vacant and underutilized land that is primed for redevelopment, including both the Scioto Peninsula and East Franklinton. The area is already home to a nationally-ranked children’s museum and has the potential to become a vibrant, energized mixed-use development.

Across the country, dam removal and river restoration projects have been shown to increase property values, encourage investment, and create vibrant communities. A healthy river that enables recreation and improves connectivity will allow Columbus to thrive and ensure maximum economic, ecological and social benefits.

The Origins of the Scioto Greenways Project

The idea of a Scioto Greenway was first presented as part of a comprehensive public process that ultimately resulted in the 2010 Downtown Strategic Plan. During the planning process, four public meetings were attended by over 500 people and more than 1,100 comments were received from the community. Online, the plan received a great deal of attention, with more than 20,000 views to the site. This robust public process created a feeling of inclusion and excitement surrounding all of the concepts, but one stood out from the rest.  In the end, the Scioto Greenways project was ranked as the number one priority by the community.  

Based on this public mandate, a study was undertaken to determine the feasibility of removing the Main Street Dam and creating a greenway along the Scioto River corridor.  This study looked at environmental and economic benefits, as well as the impact of the dam removal on the floodplain.

The study found that the removal of the Main Street Dam and restoration of a more natural river channel was feasible and would create 33 acres of new parkland, meet floodplain requirements, and restore the Scioto River habitat. 

The additional green space will better connect Downtown to the Scioto Peninsula and East Franklinton, build on the recent park investments, create links to the existing regional bikeway system, and serve as a catalyst for further private investment in Downtown.

The project is estimated to cost $35.5 million and is being funded by a variety of public and private partners, including: City of Columbus, City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Ohio Department of Environmental Protection, Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, The Columbus Foundation, and Battelle.

Why Remove the Main Street Dam?

  • The dam has significantly altered the natural channel of the Scioto River
  • The dam impounds approximately 2.3 miles of the Scioto River impeding the flow and damaging the river habitat
  • The dam inhibits the river from reaching its full potential as a warm water habitat

Transportation and Connectivity Benefits:

  • The Scioto Greenway project adds almost 1.5 miles of bike paths and pedestrian connectors, creating a dedicated bikeway trail through the heart of Downtown Columbus.
  • In addition to providing recreational opportunities, bikeways and trails encourage a viable and healthy transportation alternative.
  • This trail would fill in the missing link in a 60-mile regional trail network that connects five municipalities across central Ohio.
  • The Scioto Greenways bike path will be a key section in the center of the 300-mile Ohio to Erie Trail, which when complete, will connect the Ohio River to Lake Erie and link the state’s three largest metropolitan areas.

Dam Removal and River Restoration will:

  • Recreate and restore a more natural channel for the Scioto River
  • Have a positive impact on the aquatic habitat improving the river’s health and water quality
  • Increase the diversity of the native fish and mussel species within this segment of the Scioto River. 

Other benefits:

  • Supports as many as 350 new jobs in the region
  • Enhances the economic development potential of the Franklinton Area/Scioto Peninsula
  • Links bike paths, existing public parks and amenities into a regional greenway system.
  • Provides a greater opportunity for the public to experience and interact with the river in its more natural state
  • Connects Ohio State with Downtown through a greenway corridor, providing recreational opportunities such as canoeing and kayaking
  • Creates an additional 33 acres of green space downtown

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