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Thursday, September 16,2010

Bike path spur gets green light

By David DeWitt
The Athens County Commissioners signed a contract with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Tuesday to go forward with an extension of the bike path in Athens County.

The ODNR administers the Clean Ohio Trails Fund and has approved $182,163 in grant monies to go toward the construction of .79 miles of asphalt-paved bikeway to connect the existing Hockhocking Adena Bikeway with Athens High School and the unincorporated area of The Plains.

County Planner Bob Eichenberg said Wednesday that the contract was pretty standard stuff ensuring the construction would be in line with regulations. He said at this point the path is still being planned and an engineer needs to be hired next.

"We're on a schedule for the thing to be let for bid in 2012," he said. "So we're still two years away from construction."

He said he hopes for construction to start early to mid summer 2012, and that it would be completed a couple months after it begins.

"The problem, from my perspective at this point, is that there are so many unknowns and so many steps," he said. "Because we have federal funds we have to have an archeological survey in The Plains, which is known for its Indian mounds. So they're going to have to do a fairly detailed investigation."

He said Ohio Department of Transportation employees could be used to do that investigation. But this makes the project subject to ODOT's schedule and when their people are free to do that work, he said.

"That could be any time from later this fall... to later in spring," he said.

In addition to the state funds that were announced, the project has local and federal funds involved. Eichenberg said that the local contribution is $58,000 in Community Development Block Grant monies, while the federal contribution is around $470,000. Combined with the state monies, the total cost of the project is upward of $700,000.

"It's not cheap to build even a bike path," he said.

The term pike path, when considering this construction, is almost a misnomer, he continued.

"It's a 10-foot-wide, paved path," he said. "But just the cleared area you need is a 16-foot-wide swath. And it's got to be elevated out of flood areas. If it's going over hill areas there's a lot of earth work involved just to get the grade established and the drainage to work right. There are culverts involved, pavement markings, blinking lights and all that stuff. It adds up fast."

The existing Hockhocking Adena Bikeway runs from the eastern limits of the city of Athens to the city of Nelsonville and bypasses The Plains and the Athens High School.

The Clean Ohio Trails Fund is one of four components of the Clean Ohio Fund that restores, protects and connects Ohio's natural and urban places. Ohioans approved the establishment of the $400 million bond program in 2000, and it was a critical component of the 2008 Ohio Bipartisan Job Stimulus Plan. Voters approved an extension of the Clean Ohio Fund in 2008.

For more information on these grants and other state programs administered under ODNR, visit the agency's website at


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