City To Move Forward With Columbus Road Bike Path Spur

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A recent grant award from the Clean Ohio Trails Fund means the city of Athens will more than likely move forward with construction of the Columbus Road bike path spur in 2015.

The city was recently awarded $500,000 from the trails fund for the $1,425,000 project, which will connect Columbus Road (near the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks) to the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway near the railroad tracks. The project will also require a new bridge to be built across the Hocking River.

In August 2012, the city received $735,000 from the Transportation Alternative Program Fund — federal funds administered through the Ohio Department of Transportation — for construction of the bike path spur. Design has been completed, according to Andy Stone, director of the city’s department of engineering and public works.

The two grants now allow the city to proceed with the project. Stone said the city will need to contribute approximately $190,000 to fully fund the endeavor.

According to Stone, the city will now work to secure a right-of-way from three property owners along Columbus Road and hopefully bid the project this winter. Construction is slated to begin in 2015.

As The Messenger previously reported, the plan for the Columbus Road bike path spur originated from the city’s comprehensive plan and the city bike and pedestrian plan.

According to Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl, the city also still plans to convert the former Hi-Lo gas station property on Columbus Road to a park and ride to serve the bike path spur. However no design has been decided upon at this time.

In April 2012, the city received a letter from the Athens County Common Pleas Court alerting them that the vacant former Hi-Lo gas station on Columbus Road had been up for sheriff’s sale twice that year with no bidders. The property was up for sheriff’s sale after the owner — Delmar Hicks — failed to pay property taxes for the site. The city was given the opportunity to take over ownership of the property, which is located on lots 3085 and 3086 in the Terrace Heights Subdivision of the city. In a split vote, Athens City Council voted to acquire the property. The site is located within the city’s wellhead protection area.