DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The City of Dayton is one step closer to a rails-to-trails project becoming a reality, thanks to money from the federal government.

The Flight Line project has been in the works for the last several years. It would take an old rail line in the East Dayton area, and turn it into a biking and walking trail. Susan Vincent has been the project manager since 2019.

“It is a trail and a parkway that really provides a new connection to Downtown Dayton, to our region’s 350 miles of connected trails,” Vincent explained.

The Flight Line would start near the Oregon District and follow the old rail line east, to where the existing Creekside and Iron Horse Trails meet. The Flight Line will then connect the Iron Horse Trail to Delco Park in Kettering.

“We have trails that go around the perimeter of our city along the river ways, but we don’t have that direct connection into our biggest, most active commercial district, our Oregon District. And so, I think it provides a commuting connection for those individuals who are living outside of downtown but want to have a safe option for walking or biking into the city. It’s a great attraction for just entertainment,” Vincent said.

Thanks to work by local and state lawmakers, the city will receive $1.5 million from the latest congressional spending bill. The land is currently owned by Norfolk Southern, and the city is still negotiating with the company to buy it. Vincent said it has been difficult to find funding for this project, but the federal money is a big win.

“There’s not a lot of funding available, especially at this level, to make a purchase for property. There are many programs that will help support the construction of the trail and the park, but the acquisition has really been that first step that has to occur and it’s been very challenging to acquire the funding to support that part of the project. So this is really big news,” Vincent said.

While the project moves forward, city leaders are optimistic about the impact it will have on the region. Vincent said this could provide an economic boost to the city.

“We’ve heard from some of our private businesses, especially those who are right there where the trail will terminate in the Oregon District, how important these sorts of trails are for attracting residential tenants, but then also for their commercial tenants, that people want to work and live near these sorts of assets,” Vincent said.

Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims, Jr. credits strategic partnerships for helping secure the funding and making this plan a reality.

“We’re getting a lot of credit because of the collaborative working relationships that we have with state and federal legislators that are helping us in some key areas, that are helping to make Dayton the best place for someone to live, work, be educated, play, raise a family and grow old,” Mayor Mims said.

Vincent said acquiring the land could take most of 2023. Once the land has been purchased, they can begin planning for construction.