Emily Deering on Bike Path Collapse

Potholes to the Rescue – Unlikely Bike Path Heroes

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Repair work began Monday on the flood-damaged section of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway near Columbus Road.

Andy Stone, Athens city engineer and director of public works, said between 5,000 – 10,000 cubic yards of material had been lost on the eastbound approach to the bike path’s Armitage Road bridge.

“It’s pretty significant damage,” Stone said. “From the time of the first damage in February up until today, the situation got about three times as bad.”

Eastbound approach from Columbus Road

Flooding has occurred in the past, but recent floods carved a new path for the river, cutting away at the bank and into the bike path.

Dollars and Cents

The problem is not new: In the late 1800s, repeated flooding severely damaged the North Armitage Canal near the site of the current bike path. Then the city abandoned the canal, moving goods by rail instead. Today’s solution is more elegant: using leftover concrete from the East State Street project to stabilize the bike path’s base.

Rather than allowing a contractor to sell off excess concrete from the East State pothole repairs, Stone said the city will be using it to make the bike path a bit more flood proof.

“The concrete has got to go somewhere,” he said. “For a small amount, [the contractor] will bring it to our site and we will use it for reinforcement material for the bike path.”

This move will save the city money, and in addition, Stone will use local labor rather than hire an outside contractor, saving at least $200,000 according to Stone.

“I would love to use my own staff,” he said. “Plus, I would rather use that money on roads, bridges, traffic signals and the rest of the city as opposed to putting it into a contract to rebuild this embankment.”

Stone said he is hoping to keep the total cost of the project under $100,000. He expects repairs to take about two months.

The bike path bridge is currently closed. Andy Stone warns to stay away

Steer Clear For Now

The area is currently blocked off by signs, but Stone said this may not keep people away.

“If people choose to ignore the road-closed signs and go into the area, it’s at their own peril,” he said. “It’s a dangerous area, the path itself is undermined so it’s possible it could collapse a little bit more.”

Stone said the city is committed to opening this bike path.

“Hopefully for the majority of the summer, people will have a bike path to Columbus Road, that’s a major goal,” he said.