Off-road vehicles riding on the $800,000 Simon Kenton Trail extension from Bellefontaine to Urbana have damaged nearly two thirds of the trail and delayed completion of the project.
The damage to the newly laid packed crushed limestone path will also result in thousands of dollars in repair costs and the drivers of those vehicles could face criminal damaging and trespassing charges.
“It’s just a mess in certain areas and I’m disgusted,” said Carmen Scott, a volunteer with the Simon Kenton Pathfinders. “It wasn’t easy to raise money at this particular time, but we did it. And now it’s going to cost us more money to have the contractor come back and repair it.”
The tires on ATVs and dirt bikes have kicked up the larger rocks from under the more finely crushed limestone, Scott said, creating ruts and a bumpy surface for miles.
The Pathfinders raised $300,000 for the bike path and the city of Bellefontaine received a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the path extension. When completed, it will connect trails from Cincinnati to Bellefontaine.
Pathfinder President Nancy Lokai Baldwin said the organization will be responsible for any additional cost associated with the damage from the off-road vehicles.
Levan’s Exacting of West Liberty had finished installing the crushed limestone Tuesday. Company owner Jeremy Levan said he started seeing tracks on parts of the trail they had completed since the first week of working on the project.
“Basically they would destroy what we did the day before,” he said.
The company was nearly done with the project, but will now have to repave the entire 16-mile path, which will cost about $12,000 and take about three days.
If that doesn’t fix it, the company will have to buy up to $10,000 more of the crushed limestone and redo the damaged parts, which could take two to three more weeks and add more costs.
“It overwhelms me that people target a project to come tear up like that, not knowing all the work and costs involved with it,” Levan said.
Lokai Baldwin has reached out to the Champaign and Logan County sheriffs and the Urbana Police Department for help in keeping off-rode vehicles off the bike path.
Most of the damages are from where the trail starts in Urbana to West Liberty-Salem High School, she said.
Champaign County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rick Jordan said he is working with the Pathfinders to get cameras on the trail soon.
“We want to make sure the bike path is used for its intended purpose,” Jordan said.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.