Commissioners Donate Easement For Bike Path Extension< < Back to
The Athens County Commissioners agreed to donate an easement for construction of the Columbus Road bike path spur being pursued by the city of Athens.
City officials met with commissioners on Thursday about the easement. Although city officials asked that it be donated, they also indicated a willingness to get an appraisal if the county wanted paid.
However, the piece of property involved is very small — 0.028 of an acre — and the commissioners said they will donate the easement. It is located where the Columbus Road bike path spur will tie into the county-owned portion of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway near where the bikeway crosses the railroad tracks at the end of Armitage Road.
The Messenger recently reported that the city was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Clean Ohio Trails Fund for the $1,425,000 project, having already been awarded $735,000 in federal money from the Transportation Alternative Program Fund.
"We plan to start construction as soon as possible after the first of the year," Andy Stone, city public works director, told the commissioners. He said the project, as well as other bike path spur projects, is in keeping with the city's goal of making the path a transportation resource and not just a recreational trail.
After the meeting, Stone said the city has heard some critique of the Columbus Road bike path project as being unnecessary because no one lives on Columbus Road.
"That is untrue," Stone said in an email to The Messenger. "There are quite a few residents in that area, and if not in the city, then right of the periphery. … There are also quite a few businesses on Columbus Road who would love to have a way for more patrons to access them, rather than just driving."
Stone told The Messenger that the city also has not given up on the idea of creating a bike path spur to an old Hocking Valley Canal lock, which at one time was considered as a possible addendum to the Columbus Road project.
"We'd love to at some point," Stone said. "We just couldn't afford to do that right now."
The lock is located in the city's Armitage water well field at the end of Armitage Road, a short distance from the Columbus Road spur. The idea is to build a loop that would actually go through the lock.
The 2013 estimate for the lock spur was $241,642, including $150,000 for stabilization of the lock, according to Jessica Adine, project manager for the city's department of engineering and public works.
"We felt this cost, coupled with the longer environmental clearance, put this addendum to the (Columbus Road) project out of reach at the moment," Stone said. "The primary goal of the project was to connect the Columbus Road area to the rest of the city."
Stone said one possibility is to connect the lock to the bike path with a temporary gravel spur, until a paved addition can be built.