After questions were raised recently about the condition of two miles of the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway owned by Ohio University, OU officials have confirmed plans to continue repairs.
OU professor Tom Wolf recently wrote a Reader's Forum for The Athens NEWS complaining of a multitude of cracks in the well-used portion of bike path owned by OU.
"Besides cracks, pavement is crumbling, and the width is way too narrow for the amount of use here. And there was never an adequate base laid," he wrote. "I've frequently seen cyclists do not-so-wise maneuvers and/or ride the grass to avoid cracks. The cracks are beyond simple repair. This sector of the bikeway needs to be dug up and repaved with a solid base."
Wolf acknowledged that OU did repair work on a portion of the path west of Richland Avenue last year, but said that the condition between Richland and Stimson avenues is what needs the most attention.
OU spokesperson Katie Quaranta said Tuesday that OU replaced the section between OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital and Richland last year at an approximate cost of $150,000.
"We plan to repair the section of the bike path between Richland and Stimson in the near future, and $150,000 is budgeted for that repair," Quaranta said. "Many of the sections needing repair were cut and patched when lighting was added to the area a few years ago."
Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for architecture, design and construction, maintained that the university has not wavered in its dedication to maintaining the bike path.
"The university is committed to ongoing care to the bike path that borders the university," he said.
Wolf emphasized the importance of the bike path in terms of both recreation and sustainability.
"This provides an important transportation and recreation facility for the university and the Athens community," he wrote. "The bikeway links the university to the shopping area as well to all the roads and bridges that lead to and from Athens."
Meanwhile, the city of Athens continues planning for the longtime goal of connecting the bike path to Columbus Road, holding a public open house in March on proposals for the connection.
The city recently posted its responses to questions raised during that event on the city's website.
All comments were either neutral or supportive of the connection.
"The ability to access Columbus Road rom Athens and The Plains is quite important and helpful for commercial enterprises on Columbus Road," one commenter wrote. "There are quite a few people who commute from The Plains to Athens for work via the bikeway."
A grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation is slated to pay for 80 percent of construction costs for that connection, up to $735,000, which leaves an estimated $200,000 for the city itself.