CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio plans a $34 million renovation to a downtown Cincinnati tunnel in a project that could jump-start the overhaul of a historic park, and attract new restaurants, apartments, and condos.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation told The Cincinnati Enquirer ( ) that the state plans to start work in spring 2014 to install new ventilation, lighting and tiles inside Lytle Tunnel, which takes drivers on Interstate 71 underneath Lytle Park in the eastern part of downtown Cincinnati.

It will be the tunnel's first major renovation since its opening in 1970.

As part of the plans, the state has agreed to pay for the portion of the park affected by the work, which is included in the project's $34 million budget. About 25 percent of the park will have to be excavated to install a new fan and ventilation system. The Cincinnati Park Board, which is planning a $6 million overhaul of the 2.3-acre park, will fund the rest of the park's improvements.

Among the preliminary ideas for improvements include a running track, dog park and a fountain to help block the view of the tunnel openings. Plans also call for the 11-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln to be moved from the middle of the park to an eastern section, with a fountain going in the statue's former spot.

John Barrett, CEO of Western & Southern, which owns several properties around the park, sees Lytle Park as the centerpiece of his company's vision to develop the area.

"This whole thing could become a city unto itself," he said.

Parks Superintendent Steve Schuckman said the whole neighborhood will be transformed along with Lytle.

"We see new-park redevelopment as a catalyst in the community," Schuckman said. "Everybody gains."

He said he hopes the park renovation is finished by spring 2015, although transportation officials say part of the tunnel's work may not even start until late 2015.

So far, neither the state nor the park board has all the funding they need for the projects.

The park board is working with private donors on funding.

Western & Southern hasn't determined whether it will help fund the park's renovation, but Barrett said that he has had discussions with the park board about the running track and dog park.

The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to start replacing the lighting system and damaged tunnel wall tile by spring 2014. That $9 million phase of the project could take up to nine months and will require nightly lane closures.

Stefan Spinosa, district design engineer for the department, said he doesn't anticipate tunnel construction to affect traffic flow onto the Brent Spence Bridge, so long as construction on the bridge has started by then.

Lytle park is the original site where Gen. William Henry Lytle — the first surveyor of the Northwest Territory and Ohio — built his family's home in 1809. The city bought the land in 1905. The park was restored after the tunnel opened as the I-71 connector to Fort Washington Way on July 25, 1970.