Clark bike path could be part of national plan

Area tourism would benefit, local supporters say.

A Clark County bike path may become part of a national bike route that connects trails from Washington, D.C., to California.

The Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee and the Clark County Park District signed resolutions of support to have the Prairie Grass Trail bike path through South Charleston designated as part of the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

The new United States Bike Route 50 is a developing national network of bicycle routes that will link urban, suburban and rural areas across the country.

Louis Agresta, a transportation planner for the Clark County TCC, said the designation would increase tourism in the area.

“Anytime that you are going from Washington, D.C., to northern California, you’re going to bring people to your community. I’m guessing it will be a huge economic benefit to the county, especially in South Charleston … because there will be people who will ride this thing. There are people who bike across the country all the time,” Agresta said.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has designated a west-east corridor crossing the center of the state to be developed as United States Bike Route 50.

State departments of transportation nominate U.S. bike routes for numbered designation through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering, which assigns numbers to U.S. highways and interstates, according to the Adventure Cycling Association, a non-profit organization based in Montana.

For a route to receive designation as a U.S. Bicycle Route, it must connect two or more states, a state and an international border, or other U.S. Bicycle Routes, according to the cycling group.

USBR 50 will go from California to Washington, D.C. In Ohio, USBR 50 runs from Paint Road in Preble County at the Indiana border through 11 counties. The route passes over to West Virginia on the Market Street Bridge in Jefferson County.

Agresta said the Ohio Department of Transportation approached the TCC about adding the trail to the national route.

ODOT is requesting that 38 local governments throughout Ohio join the effort by providing a resolution of support to designate a national bike route through the state. The deadline to submit the resolution to ODOT is April 1.

Officials have received 20 resolutions of support, according to ODOT officials.

Jim Campbell, executive director of the Clark County Park District, said the designation of the trail for the national bike would help cyclists determine safe areas to ride.

“It’s basically a designation like you would designate a highway. But it allows the cycling folks to know where the designation areas are, and usually the designation is based on safety,” Campbell said.

Campbell said the designation would be a boon for the community.

“These trails are so positive for any community. It brings good positive activities to the park, and they also bring in money,” Campbell said.

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