City officials continue to take steps toward the beginning of a riverwalk project along the Ohio and Kentucky rivers in Carrollton, Ky.

An idea discussed within the community over the last two decades will finally become a reality later this year when contractors begin the first phase of the project along the Ohio River. The project will include a 2,200-foot long walkway, four bench seating areas, lighting for safety at night and landscaping.

City officials expect the riverwalk to follow the natural curves of the Ohio River.

"I'm not going to try to make it a straight line," McMurry said.

The first phase of the riverwalk will take visitors from Fifth Street behind Main Street businesses and along the Jefferson Community and Technical College parking lot to Point Park.

City officials worked over the years to secure the land behind businesses to install the walkway near the river. So far, the college parking lot is the only piece of property the city hasn't purchased or been granted a right- of-way.

The Jefferson Community and Technical College is in the process of purchasing the parking lot property. After the purchase, the city will be granted the right-of-way or purchase a piece of the property to continue the riverwalk through that area, McMurry said.

Until the city has right of way to the parking lot, the first phase of the project will include the walkway from Fifth Street to the Jefferson Community and Technical College parking lot. The walkway will continue on the other side of the parking lot to the boat ramp at Point Park.

The progress of the riverwalk marks another step in the preliminary master plan for Point Park.

One piece of the master plan - Two Rivers Campground - opened in May 2012, but the master plan has changed since it was first proposed, McMurry said.

Then again, there are already changes to the first phase of the riverwalk project.

"It's steps," McMurry said. "You can't afford the whole thing at one time."

Council members had discussed the possibility of stepped seating near the Jefferson Community and Technical College parking lot, but public works employees found large boulders and pieces of concrete in the riverbank while clearing the area. The construction cost for the space also was too high, McMurry said, with estimates for the seating area more than $80,000.

The city expects the first phase of the project to cost an estimated $235,000. With designs and other initial costs, the city hopes to keep construction costs around $200,000.

The council already approved the final construction designs for the project by Heritage Engineering of Louisville.

The project will go to bid later this year with construction to begin after that.

Even as plans for the first phase take shape, the second phase of the project has already begun - sort of. A bridge with historic ties to the area was moved from its original home on U.S. 42 across from the main entrance to Dow Corning to a ravine between Two Rivers Campground and Point Park.

The historic bridge wasn't included in the preliminary master plan of Point Park.

"We didn't know anything about the bridge until January," McMurry said.

Dow Corning approached the city about placing the bridge in a more public place for use. Built in the 1860s, the bridge had once taken travelers on Old U.S. 42 across McCool's Creek. The bridge had been abandoned and unused for several decades, but the company hoped to preserve the community's piece of history.

City officials plan have a floor installed in the historic bridge and open it to pedestrians later this year.

McMurry said the second phase of the riverwalk project will extend down the Kentucky River to Two Rivers Campground, which will connect the historic bridge to the riverwalk pathway. A concrete walkway will replace the slag pathway currently leading to the historic bridge from Point Park and the campground.

Other locations along the riverwalk - like an arboretum - are in the works as well, but the city waits to find funding for other projects.

"It's an exciting time," McMurry said of the Point Park riverwalk construction. "We're trying to take advantage of what we have that no one else has."